Bidding Glitch Delays Google IPO

Google is delaying its IPO by a week because of logistical problems related to institutional investors registering to bid on the shares, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The delay wasn’t caused by a technological problem or a lack of bidders, the person stressed. Rather, the process of registering bidders for the auction-style IPO is taking longer than anticipated, the source said.

Part of the problem, the person said, was that Google’s IPO, which is being led by Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston, is being handled through an auction format that had never been tried before.

Officially, Google had never set a date for the deal, though people familiar with the matter had pegged the date for next week. Google had said it would be about a week from the time it activated the website on which investors can register until they priced. That site opened last Friday.

A delay for Google’s $3 billion IPO would push the deal later into a month that is traditionally light on IPO volume. Underwriters try to avoid coming to market at the end of August because many investors and underwriters are on vacation then.

The delay is the latest hiccup for one of the most closely scrutinized IPOs in recent memory. From the time it filed to go public, Google has drawn attention by developing a new auction process, meant to democratize the otherwise clubby world of IPOs.

Since then, it has faced criticism for setting its offering price range too high and for fumbling its early roadshow meetings with institutional investors. It has also alienated many of the investment firms handling its own deal, through an unusually tight nondisclosure agreement and below-market underwriting fees.

Most recently, the company faced scrutiny over share distributions made in the past that may have to be bought back because they may have been awarded in violation of securities law. However, Google first disclosed the possibility of such a buyback when it filed to go public in April.

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