A Risqué IPO: FriendFinder

A name change, not making any money, a lot of debt: If that description sounds like a recipe for a dicey online date, then investors might want to apply the same principles to the coming week’s IPO of Web-site operator FriendFinder Networks Inc.

FriendFinder, which operates more than a dozen Web sites aimed primarily at people looking for relationships or flings, changed its name 18 months ago from Penthouse Media Group. It isn’t profitable, and until recently was in default on its debt covenants.

It struck a deal in October with its creditors to waive its defaults in exchange for all the money it raises in its initial public offering.

It is hoping for $200 million in net proceeds from the sale of 20 million shares through RenCap Securities and Ledgemont Capital Markets LLC, according to its prospectus, with an estimated price range of $10 to $12, and a listing on the New York Stock Exchange with symbol FFN.

The company is portraying itself as a potential catch in the social-networking industry, a sector that has few stand-alone stocks and a lot of buzz. It describes itself as a leading “social networking and multimedia entertainment company,” and in prerecorded roadshows compares itself with privately held Facebook Inc. and MySpace, owned by News Corp. (NWS), publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

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