Google gets IPO green light from SEC

Drops estimate of offering price of its shares

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday gave its approval for Google to proceed with its initial public offering (IPO).

"Google has been granted its requested approval effective immediately," said SEC spokeswoman Amy Best.

Now that the company's registration statement has been declared effective — a day later than had been expected — Google can close its share auction inviting bids from potential investors and allow its underwriters to begin accepting some of those bids to start public trading.

Google representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

Earlier on Wednesday, Google posted a notice on its IPO website that the offering price for shares will be in the range of $US85 to $US95, down from the estimate of $US108 to $US135 originally cited in its IPO prospectus.

Google, which will trade shares on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol "GOOG," said it is hoping to raise about $US1.3 billion from the sale of about 14.1 million shares.

Along with lowering its opening share price, Google has hit a number of hurdles in its highly anticipated, yet rather unorthodox IPO bid.

The company drew the attention of SEC and California authorities when it revealed that US securities laws may have been violated when Google issued unregistered shares to employees and consultants in the past. Though Google has offered to solve the problem by buying back the shares in question, at a potential cost of about $US25.9 million, on August 5 the company announced that informal inquires had been launched to look into the matter.

The informal inquiry is still continuing, the SEC spokeswoman said.

Another controversy centers on an interview Google's founders granted to Playboy magazine in April, before the company filed its IPO registration papers with the SEC. The interview appeared in Playboy's September issue, which came out this month, raising concerns that it might put the company in violation of the Securities Act of 1933, which bars company executives from discussing their company's prospects as an IPO nears. Google has said it doesn't think it has violated the law with the Playboy interview.

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