Google's $4bn Share Sale Mystifies Moneymen

22 August 2005

The trouble with Google is that the only game it's prepared to play according to Wall Street rules is that of making money.

All other Machiavellian machinations get the bum's rush from the company's ex-student founding duo, cool dudes Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Friday's announcement from the unpredictable internet titan was no exception.

In a terse statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Google unveiled its intention to sell 14.2 million shares, an offering valued at more than $4 billion (€3.29bn; £2.23bn) - a surprise move that sent the financial community into a frenzy of knee jerk speculation about its gameplan.

Google is wondrously vague about the use of the proceeds from the offering, saying only that it will be for "general corporate purposes, including working capital and capital expenditures, and possible acquisitions of complementary businesses, technologies or other assets."

But - and this is what perplexes the moneymen - the filing also states that the company has "no current agreements or commitments with respect to any material acquisitions". Which rules out the most usual reason for the sudden need to raise large capital sums.

In a purlieu where second-guessing the other guy's intentions is key to survival, analysts and economists are bereft of theories about Google's strategy.

Quoth one expert, Standard & Poors equity analyst Scott Kessler: "The company wanted to raise more capital to do something. What that might be is unclear."

And in that penetrating assessment Kessler is, as yet, way ahead of his peers.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff