An initial public offering (IPO) happens when shares of a previously private company are offered to the public on a stock exchange. This is part of a new stock issuance. A company that is planning an IPO will select underwriters to manage their financial risk, and chooses a stock exchange in which to feature their newly public shares. When the company goes public, the private shareholders’ shares will value at the same price as the public share. These are usually a higher value and therefore, they will profit from the relative returns that were expected.
In general, companies can register for an upcoming IPO after reaching a market capitalisation of $1bn, which is the same for a ‘unicorn company’. However, as long as the business can meet the listing requirements for a specific market and prove their potential for future profit, they can also qualify for an IPO.
Alternatively, an increasing number of businesses are choosing to use a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) as it may offer a slightly cheaper and quicker process.