Small investors face a struggle trying to get in on the highly-anticipated Facebook public share offering.
Most people who like the idea of owning Facebook's stock will have difficulty getting it at the offer price, which is now expected at between 34 to 38 dollars (around £21 to £23), according to a regulatory filing by the company.
Unless investors know the right people at Facebook, they will probably need to have a large, active account with one of the big banks or brokerage firms directly involved in the stock sale.
Otherwise, they can take their chances by buying shares after the initial public offering is completed, when Facebook begins trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol "FB." That is likely to happen Friday.
Doing it that way typically means paying much more for the stock, however. And heavy demand skews the early stock price, leaving an investor vulnerable to the risk of a big drop.
Facebook placement is expected to be the largest ever for an internet company. It is expected to raise as much as 11.8 billion dollars for Facebook and its early investors.
Analysts say there is so much interest in Facebook's stock that some underwriters are already closing their books. The placement is expected to be completed late on Thursday, with shares available for trading on Friday.