Auctions as an Alternative to Book Building in the IPO Process: An Examination of Underpricing for Large Firms in France
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A relevant factor in determining the quality of an initial public offering (IPO) mechanism is the level and variability of underpricing that occurs. The percentage difference between the IPO price and the closing price after one day of trading is a common way to define the “underpricing” of the stock. Although companies may value a small amount of positive underpricing, they certainly want this to be controlled. Both extreme positive and extreme negative underpricing are undesirable for a company. Building off of a paper that found a lower mean and variability of underpricing for firms that use the auction IPO mechanism as opposed to the book building IPO mechanism, this paper argues that auctions are not disadvantaged when only large firms are considered. Although this paper finds that the book building mechanism controls underpricing better than the auction mechanism, the advantage disappears when considering only large firms. This analysis is relevant because, aside from two companies, only small companies have used the auction IPO mechanism in the United States. Due to the lack of auction IPOs in the United States, this paper uses French data in its analysis. By showing that large firms using the auction mechanism are not disadvantaged when compared to large firms using the book building mechanism, this paper attempts to encourage large firms in the United States to consider using the auction method for their IPOs.
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