A follow-on offering (often, but incorrectly called a secondary offering) is an issuance of stock subsequent to the company's initial public offering. A follow-on offering can be either of two types (or a mixture of both): dilutive and non-dilutive. A secondary offering is an offering of securities by a shareholder of the company (as opposed to the company itself, which is a primary offering). A follow on offering is preceded by release of prospectus similar to IPO: a Follow-on Public Offer (FPO).
For example, Google's initial public offering (IPO) included both a primary offering (issuance of Google stock by Google) and a secondary offering (sale of Google stock held by shareholders, including the founders).
In the case of the dilutive offering, the company's board of directors agrees to increase the share float for the purpose of selling more equity in the company. This new inflow of cash might be used to pay off some debt or used for needed company expansion. When new shares are created and then sold by the company, the number of shares outstanding increases and this causes dilution of earnings on a per share basis. Usually the gain of cash inflow from the sale is strategic and is considered positive for the longer term goals of the company and its shareholders. Some owners of the stock however may not view the event as favorably over a more short term valuation horizon.
One example of a type of follow-on offering is an at-the-market offering (ATM offering), which is sometimes called a controlled equity distribution. In an ATM offering, exchange-listed companies incrementally sell newly issued shares into the secondary trading market through a designated broker-dealer at prevailing market prices. The issuing company is able to raise capital on an as-needed basis with the option to refrain from offering shares if unsatisfied with the available price on a particular day.
The non-dilutive type of follow-on offering is when privately held shares are offered for sale by company directors or other insiders (such as venture capitalists) who may be looking to diversify their holdings. Because no new shares are created, the offering is not dilutive to existing shareholders, but the proceeds from the sale do not benefit the company in any way. Usually however, the increase in available shares allows more institutions to take non-trivial positions in the company.
A non-dilutive offering is also called a secondary market offering.
How follow on Public offering is different from initial public offering.
- IPO is made when company seeks to raise capital via public investment while FPO is subsequent public contribution.
- First issue of shares by the company is made through IPO when company first becoming a publicly traded company on a national exchange while Follow on Public Offering is the public issue of shares for an already listed company.