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Facebook gets official OK to issue stock in Instagram deal

With a fairness hearing completed at last, the social-networking powerhouse now can move forward with the photo-sharing site.

Facebook has been officially cleared to start issuing stock for the Instagram acquisition.

A fairness hearing, the last hurdle for Facebook before it could move forward with its Instagram deal, concluded today with the expected approval, a Facebook spokesperson has confirmed.

No other details were released.

The Federal Trade Commission issued a statement last week that it had concluded its investigation. Today's fairness hearing allows Facebook to bypass federal registration, which can cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Instagram acquisition was once valued at $1 billion in cash and stock. With Facebook's stock price at $19 a share, half of what it was when the social network went public in May, the deal is now worth about $747.1 million.

There's been no word from Instagram about the hearing, but apparently the photo-sharing site's CEO, Kevin Systrom, testified as a witness.

At the hearing, Systrom said the "whirlwind negotiations" began Easter weekend and while Instagram was approached by other companies, it never received any other formal offers, according to tweets from Los Angeles Times reporter Jessica Guynn.

"In hearing, @kevin makes clear that there were no actual offers/term sheets on the table from Apple or Twitter when Facebook made its offer," one tweet reads.

Update 1:03 p.m. PT: Updated with confirmation from Facebook and additional information. An earlier version incorrectly defined the fairness hearing.