Nasdaq, Facebook diverge over IPO lawsuits

(Reuters) - Nasdaq OMX Group Inc and investors who sued the exchange operator over Facebook Inc's $16 billion initial public offering have asked a judicial panel to keep their dispute separate from dozens of related shareholder lawsuits.

The No. 1 social network and lead underwriters Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co had filed a motion requesting that the various lawsuits over the IPO be grouped together in federal court in Manhattan.

But in court papers filed on Monday before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation, Nasdaq and investor plaintiffs who sued it asked the panel not to combine their cases with the shareholder lawsuits against Facebook.

Brant Bishop, a Kirkland & Ellis lawyer representing Facebook, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

More than a dozen lawsuits by shareholders have accused Facebook and its underwriters of hiding the company's weakened growth forecasts ahead of the May 18 IPO, one of the largest in U.S. history.

Nasdaq, meanwhile, was sued by investors who claimed it caused losses by negligently handling their orders for Facebook shares.

"When compared to the Nasdaq actions, the securities actions allege different claims based on different facts against different defendants on behalf of broader classes and are subject to different and unique pretrial procedures," these investors said in a filing Monday.

Nasdaq made a similar argument in a separate court filing, while conceding that some coordination with the Facebook shareholder actions was warranted.

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet in Manhattan is overseeing the litigation against Nasdaq.

Separately on Monday, two plaintiffs who sued Facebook asked that their cases be heard in a federal court in California, and not in New York.

It was not immediately clear when the judicial panel, which meets in different cities in the United States, would address how best to handle both sets of cases.

Facebook's IPO was to have been the culmination of years of breakneck growth for a social network that became a cultural and business phenomenon.

But shares in the eight-year-old company founded by Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard dormitory room have shed almost a quarter of their value, or $24 billion, since going public at $38 a share.

The case is In Re: Facebook Inc, IPO Securities and Derivative Litigation, U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation, No. 12-md-2389.

(Reporting By Basil Katz)

Updated Date: Jul 18, 2012 04:45 AM

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