Facebook stock: Early backer sells most of his shares

Facebook director Peter Thiel dumps some 20 million shares of his Facebook stock as lockup period ends. Facebook stock closes at nearly half its original price. 

By , Reuters

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    Facebook director Peter Thiel gestures while giving the keynote speech during an awards ceremony in March in San Francisco. Late last week, Mr. Thiel sold some $400 million worth of Facebook stock, most of his stake in a company that he backed early on.
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Facebook Inc director Peter Thiel sold roughly $400 million worth of shares in the Internet social networking company last week, cashing out most of his stake, according to a regulatory filing.

Thiel sold his Facebook stock on Thursday and Friday at average prices ranging between $19.27 and $20.69 per share after the end of the first lockup, which barred early investors and insiders from selling shares following the initial public offering.

The sales, in which Thiel sold roughly 20 million Facebook shares, were conducted as a result of a trading plan that Thiel entered into on May 18, according to the filing.

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Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was among Facebook's earliest backers, still owns roughly 5.6 million shares of Facebook. A spokesman for Thiel declined to comment on the sales.

Accel Partners, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that was also an early backer of Facebook, distributed roughly 57.8 million Facebook shares to the limited partners and general partners of its various funds on Thursday, according to another filing. The move allows those partners to sell or hold on to their distributed Facebook shares as they see fit.

Facebook, founded by Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard University dorm room, became the only U.S. company to debut with a market value of more than $100 billion. But investors have grown disillusioned with Facebook's inability to articulate a plan to reverse slowing revenue growth.

Shares of Facebook finished Monday's regular trading session at $20.01, down nearly 50 percent from their $38 offering price in May.

More than 1.4 billion additional shares held by early investors and Facebook employees are set to become available for trading by year's end, as additional post-IPO lockup restrictions are lifted.

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