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Twitter shares to debut on New York Stock Exchange

Micro-blogging site Twitter is set to make its public debut on Wall Street. The initial public offering is above the expected price and it is the most eagerly awaited IPO since Facebook.

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Twitter sets IPO share price

A tweet sent from the micro-blogging network said Twitter would offer 70 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

With a price tag of $26 (19 euros) per share, bidding is expected to raise up to $1.8 billion for the company – a sign of strong investor demand for the mostly highly anticipated US public float since Facebook in May 2012. The share price is above the previously anticipated range of $23 - $25.

The initial public offering (IPO) has valued the messaging service at $14.1 billion, which may possibly blow out to $14.4 billion if it exercises an over-allotment option, which it is widely tipped to do.

Should the company over-allot, it would become the second-largest technology IPO since Facebook went public and made $16 billion and Google's 2004 offer, which, according to research firm Dealogic, raised $1.92 billion.

Between 12.8 and 14.5 percent of the company's shares are set to be traded publicly. The remainder will be held by Twitter's founders and a small number of early investors.

Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group who valued Twitter shares at $29 this week, said the stock appeared to have high investor support and has the potential to close at over $30 a share on its first day.

He went on to warn of the possibility of volatile trading: “there is still so much uncertainty and it's so difficult to even identify how big the opportunity is.”

The messaging service is hugely popular amongst heads of state and celebrities, boasting around 230 million users, but it still has to convince investors – Twitter has lost more than $440 million since 2010.

The company is expecting to reach profitability by delivering advertisements to users via promoted tweets, and from data analytics.

“Twitter needs to step up and deliver on the expectations that are fueling its valuation, and show that it has what it takes to provide a sustainable business model,” Eden Zoller from the British-based consultancy firm Ovum commented.

Twitter will trade on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday under the ticker TWTR.

jlw/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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