Note on IPO Share Allocation

By Mark Leslie, Claire Magat, Michael Marks
2010 | Case No. E377

An initial public offering (IPO) is the first sale of stock or shares by a company to the public. IPOs are often issued by smaller, younger companies seeking capital to expand, although they can also be done by large privately owned companies looking to become publicly traded. When a company lists its shares on a public exchange it will almost always issue additional new shares at the same time. The money paid by investors for the newly issued shares goes directly to the company (versus later trades of shares on the exchange, in which money passes between investors). Therefore, the IPO provides the company with access to a wide pool of stock market investors who can provide significant capital for future growth. Instead of the company repaying this capital, the new shareholders will have a right to future profits distributed by the company and the right to a capital distribution in the case of dissolution. Once the company is listed, it can continue to issue shares, which again provide it with capital for expansion without incurring debt. This ability to regularly raise large amounts of capital from the general market is a key incentive for many companies seeking to list. Additional reasons for going public include providing liquidity for venture investors, management, and employees, who are typically holders of stock options. In addition, through an IPO, the company gains worldwide prestige with customers, suppliers, and within its local and business communities.

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