Vincent Tan like this

Last updated : 19 May 2012 By Michael Morris

facebookCity's main backer owns 3.5m shares in Facebook and when they went public on the New York Stock Exchange this week they were worth £24.20 a share.

The Echo reports

Mr Tan became involved in Facebook through his company MOL Global Bhd. In an interview in Malaysian newspaper The Star recently, he revealed how he gained a lucrative stake in the social networking phenomenon.

When pioneering social network site Friendster went up for sale after posting huge annual losses, despite having 40million active users, Mr Tan decided to make a bid for the company.

He said he outbid Facebook – which was interested in buying some of Friendster’s patents – for the business, with a £25m offer in 2008.

Facebook was interested in the technology rights and was willing to offer £12m for them.

“We had a conference call with the people at Facebook,” Tan said. “I accepted their price but I wanted shares.”

Despite Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg’s unwillingness to dilute shares in the company, the deal went through and Tan got 700,000 shares.

They grew to 3.5million following a five-for-one split in Facebook’s shares before yesterday’s stock market launch.