Going Public: Understanding IPOs and their Pros and Cons

10 Min Read
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An initial public offering (IPO) is a critical event for a company, marking its transition from a private entity to a publicly traded one. This article explores the definition of an IPO and its significance in the economy.

Definition of an IPO:

An IPO is a process through which a company raises capital by offering its shares to the public for the first time. Companies typically go public when they need a substantial amount of capital to finance their growth plans or pay off existing debts.

Importance of IPOs in the economy: IPOs play a vital role in the economy by providing investors with the opportunity to invest in promising companies and participate in their growth. They also create jobs and stimulate economic activity by allowing companies to raise capital and expand their operations.

II. Advantages of IPOs IPOs offer several benefits to companies, including:

  1. Access to capital: Going public allows companies to raise significant amounts of capital that can be used to finance their growth plans, pay off debts, and make strategic investments.
  2. Increased liquidity: Publicly traded companies offer shares that are listed and traded on stock exchanges, providing investors with increased liquidity and making it easier to buy and sell their shares.
  3. Enhanced credibility: Going public enhances a company’s reputation and credibility by demonstrating its commitment to transparency and accountability.
  4. Attracting top talent: Publicly traded companies can attract top talent by offering stock options and other equity-based compensation packages.
  5. Opportunity for early investors to exit: IPOs provide early investors, such as venture capitalists, with the opportunity to cash out their investments and realize substantial profits.

III. Risks of IPOs IPOs also come with several risks, including:

  1. Dilution of ownership and control: Going public often involves issuing new shares, which dilutes the ownership and control of existing shareholders.
  2. Increased regulatory compliance and reporting requirements: Publicly traded companies must comply with a range of regulatory requirements and reporting obligations, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
  3. Market volatility and unpredictability: Publicly traded companies are subject to market volatility and unpredictability, which can cause significant fluctuations in their stock prices.
  4. Potential for share price decline after the IPO: The share price of a company can decline significantly after an IPO, leaving investors with substantial losses.
  5. Pressure to meet shareholder expectations: Publicly traded companies are under constant pressure to meet the expectations of their shareholders, which can be challenging and stressful for management.

IV. Steps involved in an IPO The IPO process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Hiring underwriters: Companies typically hire investment banks to underwrite their IPO and help them navigate the complex regulatory requirements.
  2. Conducting due diligence: Before going public, companies must conduct extensive due diligence to ensure they have accurate financial statements and disclosures.
  3. Filing registration statement with SEC: Companies must file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) outlining their financial information, business operations, and other key details.
  4. Roadshow and pricing: Companies typically embark on a roadshow to meet with potential investors and generate interest in their IPO. The underwriters then price the offering based on the demand from investors.
  5. Listing on an exchange: Finally, the company’s shares are listed on a stock exchange, and trading can begin.

V. IPO pricing methods:

  1. Fixed price method: In this method, the company decides on a fixed price for its shares and offers them to the public. This method is relatively simpler and easier to understand as investors know the exact price at which they will be buying the shares. However, there is a risk that the shares may be overpriced or underpriced, and this can affect the demand for the shares.
  2. Book building method: This method involves the company offering a price range for its shares, and investors are allowed to bid within that range. The company collects bids from investors and determines the final price based on demand. This method is more complex, but it provides a better indication of the demand for the shares and can help the company set a more accurate price.
  3. Dutch auction method: In this method, investors submit bids for the number of shares they want and the price they are willing to pay. The company then sets the lowest price that will allow all the shares to be sold, and investors who bid at or above that price are allotted shares. This method is considered to be transparent and fair, but it can also be complicated and time-consuming.

VI. IPO allocation methods:

  1. Proportional allocation: This method involves allocating shares to investors based on the proportion of shares they have applied for. For example, if an investor applies for 1% of the total shares, they will be allocated 1% of the shares being offered. This method is simple and fair, but it can also lead to smaller investors being allocated fewer shares.
  2. Discretionary allocation: In this method, the company has the discretion to allocate shares to investors based on factors such as their investment history, the size of their investment, and their relationship with the company. This method is more flexible, but it can also be seen as unfair if some investors are given preferential treatment.
  3. Auction allocation: In this method, investors bid for the shares they want, and the company allocates shares based on the highest bids. This method is transparent and fair, but it can also lead to some investors overpaying for the shares.

Overall, it is important for companies to consider all the available pricing and allocation methods and choose the one that is most suitable for their specific circumstances. Additionally, companies need to ensure that the pricing and allocation methods they choose are transparent and fair to all investors.


VII. Post-IPO considerations

After an IPO, there are several important considerations that companies and their shareholders should keep in mind:

Lock-up periods: Most IPOs come with a lock-up period, during which insiders and early investors are prohibited from selling their shares. This is typically six months but can vary. Lock-up periods are meant to prevent excessive selling pressure on the stock immediately after the IPO and help stabilize the share price.

Analyst coverage: Once a company goes public, it will likely receive coverage from equity research analysts at various investment banks. Analyst reports can influence investor sentiment and the stock’s performance. It’s important for companies to maintain good relationships with analysts and ensure they have accurate information.


Shareholder activism: Going public means opening up to scrutiny from shareholders and potential activist investors. Companies must be prepared to engage with shareholders and address their concerns. Shareholder activism can take many forms, from proxy fights to public campaigns to change management or company policies.

Mergers and acquisitions: Going public can make a company a more attractive acquisition target for other companies. It’s important for companies to consider their M&A strategy before going public and have a plan in place for potential acquisition scenarios.

Continued compliance and reporting requirements: Once a company goes public, it must continue to comply with various regulatory and reporting requirements, including quarterly and annual financial reporting, proxy statements, and other disclosures. Companies must also adhere to listing standards and requirements of the exchange on which they are listed.

Going public through an IPO can provide significant benefits to companies, including access to capital, increased liquidity, enhanced credibility, and the ability to attract top talent. However, there are also risks and challenges to consider, including dilution of ownership and control, increased regulatory compliance and reporting requirements, market volatility and unpredictability, potential share price decline after the IPO, and pressure to meet shareholder expectations.

Before deciding to go public, companies must carefully consider all aspects of an IPO, including the steps involved, pricing and allocation methods, and post-IPO considerations. With proper planning and execution, an IPO can be a successful strategy for companies looking to grow and expand their business.

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An experienced, qualified and result oriented professional with several years experience as a Chartered Accountant. Hemant assignment in various industries have helped him to develop expertise in sales, customer relation management, and Enterprenurship. Hemant has got degree in B. Com ( Hons. ) from Delhi University and is a Chartered Accountant by profession.Specialties: Accountancy, Taxation, Corporate Law, Business Audit, Entrepreneurship.
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