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Groupon ‘lining up IPO as Facebook delays’

Online discount firm expected to float in late autumn but social network has put off IPO until late 2012, according to reports

Groupon, the online discount firm, reportedly plans to make its Wall Street debut within two months after resolving a regulatory dispute.

The Chicago-based company is expected to go public in one of the biggest share offerings in the next 12 months. However, an even bigger technology flotation by Facebook is reported to have been delayed until late 2012.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has shelved plans to go public until September 2012, the Financial Times reported, in order to keep employees focused on product development amid increased competition from Google and Twitter.

The social networking giant, which has attracted a .5bn (£42.1bn) valuation from trading on secondary markets according to the FT, had been due to float before April 2012, when the company will disclose its first set of financial results because of US regulatory rules.

Facebook is reported to have made revenues of between .6bn and bn in the first half of this year, roughly double reported figures for the first six months of 2010.

The Facebook flotation delay opens the door for Groupon to become the biggest of the new generation of internet firms to go public.

According to the New York Times, the online discount firm plans to go public in late October or early November after it resolved an issue with US regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The bn-valued company delayed its IPO plans last week reportedly because of recent stock market volatility.

However, Groupon chief executive Andrew Mason has faced some criticism after the leaking of an internal memo in which he blasted the company’s growing army critics.

The leak came during the supposed “quiet period” when companies planning to go public are restricted from talking publicly about their financial performance.

Groupon previously had to amend its IPO documents to abandon an unusual accounting method following intense scrutiny from regulators and analysts.

Many of the hottest fledgling internet firms – including the maker of popular Facebook games, Zynga – had been due to go public this year but the volatility in financial markets has stalled their plans.

Of the 97 companies to have floated in the US this year, 64% of them currently trade below their share offer price, according to data from Thomson Reuters.

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