Accel Partners, one of the earliest investors in Facebook, has unloaded 50 million shares of the now-public social network on its own investors, according to people briefed on the matter.
On August 15, some 271 million shares of Facebook became “unlocked,” or eligible to be sold by all pre-IPO investors, according to regulatory filings. Facebook stock traded down as much as 6.2 percent in the wake of such sales. (Related:You'll Regret Not Buying Facebook Now: Pro)
For Facebook’s largest early investors, the ability to unlock shares is staggered so as to avoid a waterfall of stock sales.
The amount Accel transferred to limited partners — 50 million shares, or roughly $1 billion in stock at Thursday’s price — represents the bulk of what Accel was able to access at the first lock-up expiration, according to these people familiar with the matter. (Related:Who Has Option to Sell Facebook After Lock-Up?)
Accel owned more than 144 million Class A shares of Facebook at the time of its IPO, according to filings.
The move by Accel will allow individual investors who serve as limited partners in Accel’s funds to make day-to-day decisions on whether to sell or held Facebook stock.
The shares have lost nearly half their value since the company’s highly anticipated public offering in May, causing many early investors who have already notched gains to back away from the table. (The initial public offering itself was comprised mostly by existing investors partially exiting their stakes.)
Facebook declined to comment on the lock-up period. Accel did not respond to calls for comment.
—By CNBC's Kayla Tausche