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In order to register for a bidder ID through this web site, you must be a U.S. person.
Is this fair?
I don't know much about buying shares, is it usual for a company to exclude foreign investors?
Try: [ars.userfriendly.org...] instead ;)
Is it fair? No, but what's "fair" got to do with anything?! Google can sell its shares to whom it likes, and it is probably far less hassle limiting it to US citizens only.
Couldn't you buy them through a U.S. based broker?
However, like I said: I don't know much about buying shares. Maybe this is normal practice. Someone please let me know if this is standard.
the political message this kind of exclusion gives out
I don't think it's really all that political, it's much easier to go public when you don't have to worry about international restrictions. I think it was their intention to let the brokers worry about that stuff so they wouldn't have to.
I could imagine limiting the IPO to US-citizens only is a bit to show off that they are an American company and stand to American values.
Just my 2c
P.S. From what I heard here in "old Europe" is that you CAN'T use a US broker since you need to supply a social security number.
Sure I could. My concern is more about the political message this kind of exclusion gives out.
You worried about this "exclusion"? If I was investor in Google I'd be more worried about the fact that company sells lots of shares for a lot of money but retains control via 2-tier shareholding structure. Its as if Google wanted to have cake and eat it - temporary illusion that it is actually happening is possible, but its only temporary, and its an illusion.