Morgan Stanley Fined $5M Over Facebook Research And Handling Of IPO By Massachusetts (UPDATED)

According to CNBC, Morgan Stanley has been fined $5M over its Facebook research practices. This is the second huge fine for Morgan Stanley, the first being over “noncompetitive trades” in June.

Facebook’s stock jumped out of the gates and dipped dramatically, and Morgan Stanley filed a report based on its research afterwards, including why it was priced at $38:

Our base case scenario assumes that Facebook’s revenue growth moderates as it takes a measured approach to increasing mobile ad load while engagement increasingly shifts to mobile devices. Facebook enters an investment cycle characterized by compressed adjusted operating margins in C2012/13E. Facebook grows total revenue at a +28% CAGR from C2013-16E, while advertising revenue (+31%) grows substantially faster than payments revenue (+17%) due to casual games being played increasingly through mobile devices. We forecast C2013E adjusted EBITDA margin of 60% in this scenario.

The state of Massachusetts also fined Citigroup $2M for its involvement in the Facebook IPO. At the time, it was said to be over “violating state securities law when it released confidential information about Facebook Inc.” When the fine was levied, Citgroup’s Sophia Stewart had this to say:

We are pleased to have this matter resolved. We take our internal policies and procedures very seriously and have taken the appropriate actions.

We have reached out to Morgan Stanley for comment.

There has been discussion about Facebook’s eventual $5B IPO for some time, and after the fact, people have been saying that something wasn’t quite on the up and up. For a company that makes $25B in revenue yearly, the $5M fine could be a drop in the bucket financially, but a huge ugly mark on the company’s reputation. The company did make out quite nicely on the Facebook IPO, even though others did not.

Update: We have received a statement from a Morgan Stanley spokesperson on the matter:

We are pleased to have reached a settlement with Secretary Galvin and the Massachusetts Securities Division and to have put this matter behind us. Morgan Stanley is committed to robust compliance with both the letter and the spirit of all applicable regulations and laws.

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