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January 28, 2011 12:23 PM

Wilson Sonsini, Cooley Connect for LinkedIn IPO Work

Posted by Brian Baxter

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Cooley are advising online business networking company LinkedIn as it pursues an initial public offering, according to The Recorder, a sibling publication.

LinkedIn will be the first of the major social networking Web sites to take itself public, although the company did not specify a time frame for the listing in its S-1 prospectus filed with the SEC on Thursday.

Wilson Sonsini vice-chair Jeffrey Saper, corporate partners Katherine Martin and Jon Avina, M&A partner Warren de Wied, employee benefits partner Scott McCall, and associates Lisa Stimmell, Daphne Tam, Todd Wheeler, Bradley Libuit, and Lauren Lichtblau are representing LinkedIn.

LinkedIn's general counsel Erika Rottenberg and corporate counsel Lora Blum are handling matters in-house for the Mountain View, Calif.-based company. Rottenberg previously worked at Cooley, while Blum, a former partner at Jones Day and Heller Ehrman, once spent five years as an associate at Wilson Sonsini, according to their respective LinkedIn profiles.

Eric Jensen, chair of the national business department at Cooley in Palo Alto, is advising underwriters on the proposed offering led by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley. Also assisting Jensen as counsel to the underwriters are Cooley securities regulation partner John McKenna, compensation and benefits partner Wendy Davis, technology transactions partner Robin Lee, and associates David Peinsipp, Michael Pisetsky, and Justin Lau for counsel.

The Recorder reports that LinkedIn's SEC filing offers no details on how much money the company hopes to raise by going public, according to The Recorder. A blog post by LinkedIn CFO Steve Sordello states that portions of the shares being sold will come from the company itself and certain stockholders.

Renaissance Capital, an investment bank that tracks IPOs, crunched the financial data disclosed in LinkedIn's prospectus and estimates that the company's valuation could exceed $2 billion. The filing, which states that legal fees and expenses related to the offering are not yet available, says LinkedIn had 90 million registered users at the end of 2010.

As previously reported by The Am Law Daily, the U.S. IPO market rebounded in 2010 and appears poised for an even stronger year in 2011. Web-based companies like Groupon and Facebook have become hot commodities, and some observers believe that the LinkedIn IPO could be the one that paves the way for others in the technology sector when going public.

"LinkedIn is probably one of a handful of companies that really have the stature to do something meaningful in advance of Facebook," Dorsey & Whitney corporate securities partner Ted Hollifield in Palo Alto told the San Jose Mercury News.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury hired an outside financial adviser for a looming IPO by Ally Financial, the Detroit-based financing business formerly known as GMAC, which was bailed out by the government as a result of the bankruptcy of ex-parent General Motors. Italian fashion group Prada also announced that it was going ahead with plans for an IPO in Hong Kong after its first attempt at going public was shelved after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

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