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Groupon reportedly holding talks for initial public offering this year

Groupon, the largest coupon website, is seriously considering an initial public offering later this year and is meeting with securities firms interested in handling the sale, said two people familiar with the matter.

The company may hold an IPO as soon as midyear, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions were private. While Groupon is choosing from as many as six banks, it hasn't retained one yet, one of the people said. The offering may value the company at $15 billion, one person said.

Only days earlier, Groupon had announced a $950 million round of funding. The financing, said to value the company at $4.75 billion, attracted venture firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The public offering would add to a war chest the start-up could use to expand internationally.

Last month, Andrew Mason, Groupon CEO, spurned a $6 billion takeover offer from Google, with an eye to taking the business public this year, a person close to the company said at the time. Groupon, founded in 2008, has more than 50 million users.

Julie Mossler, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based Groupon, declined to comment.

Groupon has said that part of the $950 million will go toward letting employees and early investors cash out of their shares. Private companies must keep the number of shareholders below 500 or they are subject to reporting requirements by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Groupon offers daily discounts of as much as 90 percent from businesses such as restaurants, nail salons and clothing stores. It then keeps a portion of the revenue. The company may have generated more than $500 million in sales last year, people with knowledge of the finances said.

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