Usually, security of a publicly traded company is owned by many investors while the shares of a privately held company are owned by relatively few shareholders. Therefore, publicly traded companies are able to raise funds and capital through the sale (in the primary or secondary market) of their securities, whether debt or equity, to a wide range of buyers. This is the reason publicly traded corporations are important; prior to their existence, it was very difficult to obtain large amounts of capital for private enterprises. The magnitude of funding available from public financing is its chief advantage.
Advantages from Initial Public Offering
New companies, which are typically small, tend to be privately held. After a number of years, if a company has grown significantly and is profitable or has promising prospects, there is often an initial public offering, which converts the privately held company into a publicly traded company.
Through this process, a private company transforms into a public company. Initial public offerings are used by companies to raise expansion capital, to monetize the investments of early private investors, and to become publicly traded enterprises.
When a company lists its securities on a public exchange, the money paid by the investing public for the newly issued shares goes directly to the company (primary offering) as well as to any early private investors who opt to sell all or a portion of their holdings (secondary offering) as part of the larger IPO. An IPO, therefore, allows a company to tap into a wide pool of potential investors to provide itself with capital for future growth, repayment of debt, or working capital. A company selling common shares is never required to repay the capital to its public investors.
An IPO accords several benefits to the previously private company:
Enlarging and diversifying equity base
Enabling cheaper access to capital
Increasing exposure, prestige, and public image
Attracting and retaining better management and employees through liquid equity participation
Facilitating acquisitions (potentially in return for shares of stock)
Creating multiple financing opportunities, such as equity, convertible debt, and cheaper bank loans
Advantages from Follow-On Offering
Once a company is listed, it is able to issue additional common shares in a number of different ways, one of which is the follow-on offering. This method provides capital for various corporate purposes through the issuance of equity without incurring any debt. This ability to quickly raise potentially large amounts of capital from the marketplace is a key reason many companies seek to go public.