What does Facebook IPO lead really mean for Morgan Stanley?

Let’s get this out of the way first: Facebook will, without a doubt, have the largest-ever debut for an Internet company. It’s going to blow Google out of the water. It’s going to make last year’s launches of Groupon, LinkedIn and Zynga seem like kids’ stuff. And it’s going to make a select group of people very, very rich.

Aside from all that, it also puts Morgan Stanley on very solid footing at the expense of its biggest rival, Goldman Sachs. Let’s phrase it this way: when it is but Feb. 2 and analysts are already declaring that Morgan Stanley will lead all financial institutions as the top underwriter of U.S. IPOs for the whole of 2012 (which would make the title Morgan Stanley’s for the third straight year), that is a big deal.

It’s not even all about the money (although some might beg to differ). Morgan Stanley and the other banks underwriting Facebook’s IPO (which so far include JPMorgan, Goldman, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, and Allen & Co.) will likely take a smaller cut – perhaps 1% or 1.5% – than the traditional 5% that goes to the underwriters. The sheer size of the IPO filing (to put it in perspective, if Facebook gets $5B, it will account for roughly 70% of all 2012 global IPO activity, per ThompsonReuters) will make up for the lower percentage, of course. Where Morgan Stanley really wins here is in its reputation, though.

Think about it – over the last 12+ months, Morgan Stanley has been awarded the lead in IPO filings by LinkedIn, Zynga, and now Facebook, giving the company an enviable position in the market for tech IPOs – one that, mind you, was thought to have been cornered by Goldman. And when Morgan Stanley wins, Westchester wins – lest we forget that the investment banker is among the most important tenants and employers in Westchester County.

Corporate giving panel today in Greenwich — Consumer confidence slips — Auto sales up 6%

Happy Tuesday! Florida Republicans will vote in today’s primary, while the Giants and the Patriots will participate in Super Bowl Media Day in Indianapolis – expect the press to vastly over-cover both events.

LEADING OFF: Today, seven panelists from Westchester and Fairfield counties will discuss the state of corporate giving and how not-for-profits are faring in these uncertain and difficult economic times. The panel is being hosted at L’Escale restaurant by Westfair Communications Inc., the parent company of the Westchester County Business Journal and the Fairfield County Business Journal, and will feature speakers from the United Way of Putnam/Westchester, ShopRite, PepsiCo, ArtsWestchester, and more. If businesses are still struggling to expand and still reluctant to invest (which, by and large, they are), then you can be sure that the economic issues are amplified for non-profits, who depend on corporate giving programs to stay alive. Stay tuned for reactions and insight from the speakers.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE SLIPS IN DECEMBER: The Conference Board said today that its consumer confidence index for the month of December fell to 61.1 from a revised 64.8 in November. (A panel of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had called for the index to increase to 68). The report noted that fewer Americans expect their incomes to increase over the next six months.

QUICK HITS: U.S. auto sales are expected to show a 6 percent increase when they are unveiled tomorrow, according to published reports; Negative advertisements represented 92 percent of all ads aired in Florida in the lead-up to today’s primary; Gannett reported yesterday that fourth quarter profits fell 33 percent to $116.9 million; Philips Electronics posted a net fourth-quarter loss of $214 million; excitement continues to build on Wall Street as Facebook is expected to announce an IPO date in the next couple of weeks.