FACEBOOK will begin the process of becoming a publicly-listed company this week, valuing the social networking site at between $75b and $100b, say reports.

According to the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal, Facebook plans to file papers with the US financial watchdog on Wednesday.

The flotation later this year would raise around $10bn (£6.35bn), making it one of the biggest share sales ever on Wall Street. It would dwarf the $1.9bn (£1.2bn) made by Google when it went public in 2004, although it would only be half the $20bn (£12.7bn) raised by carmaker General Motors in November 2010.

The reports suggest Morgan Stanley will be the lead underwriter for the sale, with Goldman Sachs also heavily involved. Rumours of Facebook’s so-called initial public offering (IPO) have been circulating for months.

The reported valuation would make it one of the world’s biggest companies by market capitalisation. “Facebook a brilliant achievement, but $75-$100bn? Would make Apple look really cheap,” said Rupert Murdoch on Twitter.     –Sky News

The company was started by Mark Zuckerberg and fellow students at Harvard University in 2004 and quickly grew to become one of the world’s most popular websites. It makes most of its money through advertising. As a private company, Facebook does not have to publish its accounts.

However, reports last year suggested it made a net profit of $355m (£225m) on revenues of $1.2bn (£762.5m) in the first nine months of 2010.