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Initial Public Offering Basics, Benefits & Requirements

Todays Date: November 18, 2018

An Initial Public Offering (IPO) is a vehicle for a privately held company to go public. It usually ends up as seminal event in the company’s history. The company starts off by issuing a specific number of share certificates at a specific price to investors. Once it gets listed on a specific stock market, the company’s shares can be bought and sold by individual investors.

In order to get to this point where the company gets listed, there are a huge number of requirements that the company has to fulfill. There are compliance issues, filings to regulatory bodies, and disclosures of the company’s financial condition. Once fulfilled, the benefits of a well subscribed IPO are massive and the company gets a big boost, in terms of cash and reputation.

The sudden influx of capital with no strings attached helps keep the company’s current business on track, and puts its growth plans on a high-speed track. Liquidity problems which can derail a company’s existence disappear, and lenders can be paid off in full. The business also gets a boost from all the hype over the IPO and customers and business partners will start looking at the company with greater trust.

The first concrete step towards an IPO is for the company to file a registration statement with the SEC. This statement, along with a prospectus for the IPO, tells the company’s entire story. It helps investors (and the SEC) decide whether the company is a good horse to bet on.

This process can be significantly eased with the help of the underwriters. It is their job to assist the company with the public offering. They’ll help the company move from being a private concern to a public company whose executives need to answer to the Board and every shareholder. But most importantly, they make a judgment about the IPO share price and the number of shares to be issued, and other aspects such as the timing and the market.

There are significant post-IPO reporting and disclosure requirements for public companies. Publishing quarterly financial results and holding an annual shareholder meeting are two such examples. One big area where change is almost inevitable after an IPO is the management. Every company that goes public ends up hiring new executives who have experience in managing large public companies.

The success of an IPO is mainly based on how sound the finances, growth prospects and revenue model, not to mention the viability of the sector the company belongs to. But many IPOs have crashed and burned even with all this. Reasons why an IPO might fail include bad timing, over-pricing and/or too big a size, and choosing the wrong market.

In Canada, for example, IPOs tend to be smaller than the ones in the US. They are also slightly under-priced because the market doesn’t have the same strong appetite for risk. European IPOs have to look at a lot more factors and have a smaller window, since problems in any EU member nation can affect markets in all the other nations.

Before 2001, when dotcoms were still in vogue, anyone with a website could file for an Initial Public Offering and watch the millions piling up as the markets kept going up. What investors want now is a safe company with lots of assets to its name and long term growth prospects. For any business that can traverse this long road to IPO success, there’s a huge reward waiting at the other end.

In order to grow and expand, many companies will go through the IPO How process and make an Initial Public Offering (IPO) to the general public. A new IPO Prospectus valuation is usually made, and Canadian IPOs are becoming more common nowadays.

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