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Zuckerberg to sell £1.4 billion Facebook shares to pay tax bill

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is to sell $2.3 billion (£1.4 billion) of his own shares in the company in order to cover tax costs.

In total nearly $4 billion (£2.4 billion) of shares will be made available to the public by Facebook and its founder, which could signal the social network's intention to make a large acquisition.

It is the first public offering since last year's IPO, coming at a time when Facebook's share price is soaring at $55.57 (£33.92).

Despite the sale, Zuckerberg will still retain overall control of the social network. The 41,350,000 shares sold will in fact only reduce his voting power from 65.2 per cent to 62.8 per cent.

The majority of the funds raised by Zuckerberg will be used to pay a tax bill that he will face for exercising an option to purchase 60 million Facebook shares of class B common stock.

Facebook and Zuckerberg may still face legal action from investors regarding the initial public offering in May 2012. This week a US District Judge said investors should pursue a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, Facebook and several banks for misleading them with regards to the company's future revenue prospects.

"The company's purported risk warnings misleadingly represented that this revenue cut was merely possible when, in fact, it had already materialized," Judge Robert Sweet wrote in his report.

"Plaintiffs have sufficiently pleaded material misrepresentation(s) that could have and did mislead investors regarding the company's future and current revenues."