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Twitter set for massive flotation
Twitter has set the ball rolling for one of the most eagerly anticipated stock market flotations since Facebook took the plunge last year.
The social network has filed paperwork for an initial public offering (IPO) and announced the news in a tweet on Thursday night. The move follows fervent speculation about when the company would go public and comes more than a year after Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook enjoyed one of the biggest flotations in the US stock market history.
Estimates suggest Twitter could be worth between 10 billion and 15 billion US dollars (£6.3 billion to £9.5 billion), with most bets around the 11 billion dollar (£6.9 billion) mark.
The micro-blogging site set out its plans telling users it had submitted a form to the American market regulator, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), ahead of a planned IPO.
It made use of a new rule that enables firms with revenues of less than 1 billion dollars (£630 million) to file the documents confidentially. This means details of its finances will be kept under wraps until it begins to draw investors.
"We've confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO," it said, adding: "This tweet does not constitute an offer of any securities for sale." The firm followed the tweet with a picture of the Twitter offices and a message reading: "Now, back to work."
Its initial message has already been retweeted more than 12,000 times and the subject was trending on the micro-blogging site.
Twitter's potential public offering has sparked constant discussion on Wall Street since Facebook floated in May last year for 104 billion dollars (£66.2 billion). But the company saw an initial slump in shares amid concerns over how it could boost revenue from the growing number of mobile users.
Experts said Twitter would be hoping to avoid the same issue when it makes its anticipated transition to public ownership. Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said Twitter would need to be "very clear about how it was going to monetise". "They are also going to want to avoid the pitfalls that Facebook fell into," he said.
Ishaq Siddiqi, market strategist at the financial spread betting firm ETX Capital, warned the market could be a "little more wary" with Twitter after the troubles that followed Facebook's stock market debut.