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T. Rowe Price invests in Facebook

April 15, 2011 | 12:40 pm

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T. Rowe Price invested $190.5 million in social-networking phenom Facebook during the first quarter, according to filings made public on financial firm's website.

T. Rowe Price made the investment through 19 mutual funds at $25 a share.

The figure made public in the filings does not include investments made by other T. Rowe Price vehicles, such as separate accounts, spokeswoman Heather McDonold said. She declined to comment further on the investment.

Facebook said in January that it raised $1.5 billion from investors led by investment bank Goldman Sachs, which made the Palo Alto-based firm worth $50 billion at the time. Since then, its shares have been hotly traded on secondary markets. Facebook is now valued at $55.2 billion on SharesPost.

Five T. Rowe Price mutual funds also bought preferred stock in San Francisco social games maker Zynga at $28.06 a share.

Three funds bought $22.2 million of preferred shares in online business review website Angie's List.

T. Rowe Price took a stake in information-sharing network Twitter in 2009 and in Groupon late last year.

T. Rowe Price had $482 billion in assets under management as of the end of 2010. It, like many mutual fund companies, is looking to get a piece of the action in social media. The investments carry additional risks because these companies are not yet publicly traded, yet investors are driving up their valuations.

The latest investment in Facebook comes as the world's most popular social-networking site siphons users and advertising dollars from other Internet giants.

Facebook surpassed Google last year to become the most visited website in the U.S., according to Experian Hitwise, an Internet-tracking company in New York.

In February, more than a third of all online-display ads in the U.S. appeared on Facebook, more than three times as many as its closest competitor, Yahoo, according to research firm ComScore Inc.

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-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, speaks during a news conference at the company's headquarters in Palo Alto on April 7, 2011.Credit: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

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