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US law firms Fenwick & West and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett have secured the lead advisory roles on Facebook’s much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) aftter the social networking giant filed for the $5bn (£3.2bn) listing yesterday (1 February), reports The Am Law Daily.

According to the S-1 filing, Fenwick chairman Gordon Davidson and securities group co-chair Jeffrey Vetter are leading the team from the firm that has won the much-coveted lead counsel role for Facebook.

Fenwick, which shifted its HQ from Palo Alto to nearby Mountain View a decade ago, has an established relationship with Facebook and had been expected to take the key role for the company after becoming its lead outside corporate counsel in 2007.

Speculation that Fenwick had scored the lead role on the long-awaited IPO began to grow last week after lawyers from the firm reportedly sought to cease trading of the company’s shares on the secondary market.

Meanwhile, elite New York law firm Simpson Thacher has won the lead role to to advise the underwriting banks, which are led by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital and JPMorgan Chase. Palo Alto corporate partners William Hinman and Daniel Webb are heading up the firm’s team.

Hinman has previously advised the underwriters on tech IPOs for such companies as Google, eBay, mobile data services provider Motricity and computer game maker Shanda Games.

Facebook, which was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and several Harvard classmates, is tentatively scheduled to begin trading its shares publicly in May. The offering marks the latest chapter in the saga of a  company that has grown exponentially over the past eight years, with the battles over who deserves credit for its creation spawning both long-running lawsuits and an Oscar-nominated feature film.

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