Google’s Offering to be Delayed?

Nasty news tonight for Google in a revised filing makes the unthinkable seemingly possible: Google’s public offering could be postponed.

In essence the company committed a no-no — between 2001 and 2004 it issued 23.2-milllon shares of common stock that it hadn’t properly registered with regulators. It is now “volunteering” to buy that stock back from recipients for $26-million in what’s called a “rescission offer”.

What a mess. Because people may, for example, choose not to sell their stock back. They may instead choose to sue Google for wrongfully selling them shares. The company warns as much in a revised filing tonight, saying that it faces potential liabilities in 18 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in federal court.

All of this does become moot if people don’t sell and there is a successful offering. The 1,400 people (shareholders and option holders) in question will become registered shareholders by the mere act of showing up. The real question, however, is whether regulators will delay the issue given the silly screw-up.