Posted January 12, 2018 06:00:00By Michael SchumacherThe internet giant Facebook is set to sell off its shares at least for the next two weeks, in a move to protect its stock from possible legal action over alleged anti-competitive behavior by rival app-based messaging service WhatsApp.
The sale is likely to be completed in the next few days, according to people familiar with the matter.
The sale is being made in conjunction with a separate transaction announced in January by Facebook, according a source familiar with those discussions.
Facebook declined to comment on the specifics of the deal.
The announcement by WhatsApp on Wednesday came as a surprise to many analysts and investors.
WhatsApp’s stock has surged in the last 24 hours, but it is still just shy of the $1 billion that Facebook is said to be selling it at in a bid to make it less valuable.
The stock was up more than 6% at $14.20 on Wednesday.
The move will allow Facebook to raise money to help cover legal costs, and will be made at a time when it is already reeling from the social media platform’s $3 billion loss in the first half of 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar.
Facebook is now being sued by Samsung and others for allegedly breaching patent licensing agreements with Google.
Facebook’s share price has been falling, and the company’s share of the global smartphone market is expected to fall by about 10% in 2018, according, the Journal said.
WhatsApp is also being sued for allegedly violating privacy rules by sharing data about users’ interactions with each other without their permission.
The company has been forced to sell WhatsApp’s remaining shares, which will be worth a total of about $1.5 billion, as part of a deal with investors, according Bloomberg.