Could Facebook be taken private? Zuckerberg’s $52 billion cash pile leads to some wild ideas – CNBC

Could Facebook be taken private? Zuckerberg’s $52 billion cash pile leads to some wild ideas – CNBC

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on "An Examination of Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors" in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC on October 23, 2019. Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images Facebook has a $52 billion problem: It's got more cash than all but a handful of American companies, but so much of Washington is mad at the social media leader that the heat may be too much for the company to make the big acquisitions the market normally would expect. For finance types like Facebook CFO David Wehner, not to mention his boss, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, all that cash on the balance sheet creates a fascinating problem. Facebook pays no dividend, but even adding a 2% dividend yield to its high-flying shares would consume only about $11 billion a year, at a company that generated $32 billion in operating cash flow over the last 12 months. Meanwhile, Facebook actually has slowed down the pace of its stock buybacks this year, after spending more than $11 billion on buybacks during 2018, when ....

They have vowed to try to break up Facebook and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, as they exist now. "They're in a box, " Freeman said. "They're in the M&A box." A wild idea: Taking Facebook private Perhaps no analyst is as willing to be provocative in discussing Facebook's cash issues as Freeman, who rates the company's stock a buy. And his craziest idea of all, as he acknowledges himself, is that Zuckerberg, tired of the fuss that attends running a public company and owning a large stake already, simply could take Facebook private. "It would be the biggest deal ever, but why not go private?" Freeman said. Indeed, it would. The biggest going-private transaction ever is Dell's $67 billion deal to acquire and take computer-storage giant EMC private in 2016, according to a 2018 list compiled by PitchBook. Big buyouts like Kraft Heinz (a $26 billion deal that combined the previously private Heinz with Kraft as a public company), Dell's own $25 billion leveraged buyout in 2013 and a raft of pre-financial crisis deals for Equity Office Properties Trust, Hilton Worldwide and Caesar's Entertainment, trail far behind Facebook's $565 billion market cap. Even with Facebook's prodigious ....

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