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Formally known as an "over-allotment option," a greenshoe is the term commonly used to describe a special arrangement in a share offering, for example an initial public offering (IPO), which enables the investment bank representing the underwriters to support the share price after the offering without putting their own capital at risk. The option is codified as a provision in the underwriting agreement between the leading underwriter - the lead manager - and the issuer (in the case of primary shares) or vendor (secondary shares). [1]

Initial public offering (IPO) or stock market launch is a type of public offering in which shares of a company are sold to institutional investors and usually also retail (individual) investors; an IPO is underwritten by one or more investment banks, who also arrange for the shares to be listed on one or more stock exchanges. Through this process, colloquially known as floating, or going public, a privately held company is transformed into a public company. Initial public offerings can be used: to raise new equity capital for the company concerned; to monetize the investments of private shareholders such as company founders or private equity investors; and to enable easy trading of existing holdings or future capital raising by becoming publicly traded enterprises.

In an equity offering, primary shares, in contrast to secondary shares, refer to newly issued shares of common stock. Proceeds from the sale of primary shares go to the issuer.

In an IPO, secondary shares refer to existing shares of common stock that are sold to investors in an offering . The selling of these secondary shares may be from existing shareholders. Since these shares do not increase the number of total shares outstanding, the offering is referred to as "non-dilutive".


The term is derived from the name of the first company, Green Shoe Manufacturing (now called Stride Rite Corporation), to permit underwriters to use this practice in an IPO. [2]

Stride Rite, formerly the Stride Rite Corporation and stylized as stride rite, is an American company that develops, manufactures and markets children's footwear in the United States of America and international markets. It is a major marketer of athletic and casual footwear for children and adults. In addition to the Stride Rite brand, the parent company Wolverine World Wide is known for designing and manufacturing footwear marketed as the following owned or licensed brands: Keds, Grasshoppers, Robeez, Saucony, Sperry Top-Sider, Merrell, Hush Puppies, and Jessica Simpson Kids. They also owned the rights to the defunct children's brand Zips.

The use of greenshoe options in share offerings is now widespread, for two reasons: it is a legal mechanism for an underwriter to stabilize the price of new shares, which reduces the risk of their trading below the offer price in the immediate aftermath of an offer - an outcome damaging to the commercial reputation of both issuer and underwriter. Secondly, it grants the underwriters some flexibility in setting the final size of the offer based on post-offer demand for the shares.

Underwriting services are provided by some large financial institutions, such as banks, or insurance or investment houses, whereby they guarantee payment in case of damage or financial loss and accept the financial risk for liability arising from such guarantee. An underwriting arrangement may be created in a number of situations including insurance, issue of securities in a public offering, and bank lending, among others. The person or institution that agrees to sell a minimum number of securities of the company for commission is called the underwriter.

Underwriter short-selling and price stabilization

Greenshoe option

The greenshoe option provides stability and liquidity to a public offering. As an example, a company intends to sell one million shares of its stock in a public offering through an investment banking firm (or group of firms, known as the syndicate) which the company has chosen to be the offering's underwriters. Stock offered for public trading for the first time is called an initial public offering (IPO). Stock that is already trading publicly, when a company is selling more of its non-publicly traded stock, is called a follow-on or secondary offering.

Market liquidity markets feature whereby an individual or firm can quickly purchase or sell an asset without causing a drastic change in the assets price

In business, economics or investment, market liquidity is a market's feature whereby an individual or firm can quickly purchase or sell an asset without causing a drastic change in the asset's price. Liquidity is about how big the trade-off is between the speed of the sale and the price it can be sold for. In a liquid market, the trade-off is mild: selling quickly will not reduce the price much. In a relatively illiquid market, selling it quickly will require cutting its price by some amount. Liquidity can be measured either based on trade volume relative to shares outstanding or based on the bid-ask spread or transactions costs of trading.

Stock financial instrument

The stock of a corporation is all of the shares into which ownership of the corporation is divided. In American English, the shares are commonly known as "stocks." A single share of the stock represents fractional ownership of the corporation in proportion to the total number of shares. This typically entitles the stockholder to that fraction of the company's earnings, proceeds from liquidation of assets, or voting power, often dividing these up in proportion to the amount of money each stockholder has invested. Not all stock is necessarily equal, as certain classes of stock may be issued for example without voting rights, with enhanced voting rights, or with a certain priority to receive profits or liquidation proceeds before or after other classes of shareholders.

A public offering is the offering of securities of a company or a similar corporation to the public. Generally, the securities are to be listed on a stock exchange. In most jurisdictions, a public offering requires the issuing company to publish a prospectus detailing the terms and rights attached to the offered security, as well as information on the company itself and its finances. Many other regulatory requirements surround any public offering and they vary according to jurisdiction.

The underwriters function as the brokers of these shares and find buyers among their clients. A price for the shares is determined by agreement between the company and the buyers. When shares begin trading in a public market, the lead underwriter is responsible for helping to ensure that the shares trade at or above the offering price.

A broker is a person or firm who arranges transactions between a buyer and a seller for a commission when the deal is executed. A broker who also acts as a seller or as a buyer becomes a principal party to the deal. Neither role should be confused with that of an agent—one who acts on behalf of a principal party in a deal.

Financial market generic term for all markets in which trading takes place with capital

A financial market is a market in which people trade financial securities and derivatives such as futures and options at low transaction costs. Securities include stocks and bonds, and precious metals.

When a public offering trades below its offering price, the offering is said to have "broke issue" or "broke syndicate bid". This creates the perception of an unstable or undesirable offering, which can lead to further selling and hesitant buying of the shares. To manage this situation, the underwriters initially oversell ("short") the offering to clients by an additional 15% of the offering size (in this example, 1.15 million shares). When the offering is priced and those 1.15 million shares are "effective" (become eligible for public trading), the underwriters are able to support and stabilize the offering price bid (also known as the "syndicate bid") by buying back the extra 15% of shares (150,000 shares in this example) in the market at or below the offer price. The underwriters can do this without the market risk of being "long" this extra 15% of shares in their own account, as they are simply "covering" (closing out) their short position.

Short (finance) practice of selling securities or other financial instruments that are not currently owned

In finance, a short sale is the sale of an asset that the seller has borrowed in order to profit from a subsequent fall in the price of the asset. After borrowing the asset, the short seller sells it to a buyer at the market price at that time. Subsequently, the resulting short position is "covered" when the seller repurchases the same asset in a market transaction and delivers the purchased asset back to the lender to replace the asset that was initially borrowed. In the event of an interim price decline, the short seller will profit, since the cost of (re)purchase will be less than the proceeds received upon the initial (short) sale. Conversely, the short position will result in a loss if the price of a shorted asset rises prior to repurchase.

When the offering is successful, demand for shares causes the price of the stock to rise and remain above the offering price. If the underwriters were to close their short position by purchasing shares in the open market, they would incur a loss by purchasing shares at a higher price than the price at which they sold them short.

The greenshoe (over-allotment) option would now come into play. The company had initially granted the underwriters the option to purchase from the company up to 15% more shares than the original offering size at the original offering price. By exercising their greenshoe option, the underwriters are able to close their short position by purchasing shares at the same price for which they short-sold the shares, so the underwriters do not lose money.

If the underwriters are able to buy back all of the oversold shares at or below the offering price (to support the stock price), then they would not need to exercise any portion of their greenshoe option. If they are able to buy back only some of the shares at or below the offer price (because the stock eventually rises higher than the offer price), then the underwriters would exercise a portion of greenshoe option to cover their remaining short position. If the underwriters were not able to buy back any portion of the oversold shares at or below the offering price ("syndicate bid") because the stock immediately rose and stayed up, then they would completely cover their 15% short position by exercising 100% of their greenshoe option.

SEC regulations

The SEC permits the underwriters to engage in naked short sales of the offering. The underwriters create a naked short position either by selling short more shares than the amount stated in the greenshoe option, or by selling short shares where there is no greenshoe option. It is theoretically possible for the underwriters to naked short sell a large percentage of the offering. [3] The SEC also permits the underwriting syndicate to place stabilizing bids on the stock in the aftermarket. [4] However, underwriters of initial and follow-on offerings in the United States rarely use stabilizing bids to stabilize new issues. Instead, they engage in short selling the offering and purchasing in the aftermarket to stabilize new offerings. "Recently, the SEC staff has learned that in the US, syndicate covering transactions have replaced (in terms of frequency of use) stabilization as a means to support post-offering market prices. Syndicate covering transactions may be preferred by managing underwriters primarily because they are not subject to the price and other conditions that apply to stabilization." [5]

Naked short selling and syndicate covering purchases

The only option the underwriting syndicate has for closing a naked short position is to purchase shares in the aftermarket. Unlike shares sold short related to the greenshoe option, the underwriting syndicate risks losing money by engaging in naked short sales. If the offering is popular and the price rises above the original offering price, the syndicate may have no choice but to close a naked short position by purchasing shares in the aftermarket at a price higher than that for which they had sold the shares. On the other hand, if the price of the offering falls below the original offer price, a naked short position gives the syndicate greater power to exert upward pressure on the issue than the greenshoe option alone, and this position then becomes profitable to the underwriting syndicate. [3]

Risk to investors

The underwriters' ability to stabilize a stock's price is finite both in terms of the number of shares the underwriters short-sold, and the length of time over which they choose to close their positions. "Regulation M defines this type of share repurchase as a syndicate covering transaction and imposes the same disclosure requirements as those imposed on penalty bids. Consequently, investors need not be informed that an offering is, or will be, stabilized by way of a syndicate short position. Rather, investors need only be exposed to language indicating that 'the underwriter may effect stabilizing transactions in connection with an offering of securities' and a characterization of possible stabilization practices in the 'plan of distribution' section of the prospectus." [6]

The SEC currently does not require that underwriters publicly report their short positions or short-covering transactions. Investors who are unwary of underwriter stabilizing activity who choose to invest in what they perceive to be a stable issue can encounter volatility when the underwriters pause or complete any stabilizing activity. "Cast in the most negative light, price stabilization might be seen as a means of transferring risk to a relatively naïve segment of the investor population." [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

The primary market is the part of the capital market that deals with the issuance and sale of equity-backed securities to investors directly by the issuer. Investor buy securities that were never traded before. Primary markets create long term instruments through which corporate entities raise funds from the capital market. It is also known as the New Issue Market (NIM).

In finance, a put or put option is a stock market device which gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell an asset, at a specified price, by a predetermined date to a given party. The purchase of a put option is interpreted as a negative sentiment about the future value of the underlying stock. The term "put" comes from the fact that the owner has the right to "put up for sale" the stock or index.

Secondary market company

The secondary market, also called the aftermarket and follow on public offering is the financial market in which previously issued financial instruments such as stock, bonds, options, and futures are bought and sold. Another frequent usage of "secondary market" is to refer to loans which are sold by a mortgage bank to investors such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Gross spread refers to the fees that underwriters receive for arranging and underwriting an offering of debt or equity securities. The gross spread for an initial public offering (IPO) can be higher than 10% while the gross spread on a debt offering can be as low as 0.05%.

Rights issue

A rights issue or rights offer is a dividend of subscription rights to buy additional securities in a company made to the company's existing security holders. When the rights are for equity securities, such as shares, in a public company, it is a non-dilutive(can be dilutive) pro rata way to raise capital. Rights issues are typically sold via a prospectus or prospectus supplement. With the issued rights, existing security-holders have the privilege to buy a specified number of new securities from the issuer at a specified price within a subscription period. In a public company, a rights issue is a form of public offering.

A lock-up period, also known as a lock in, lock out, or locked up period, is a predetermined amount of time following an initial public offering where large shareholders, such as company executives and investors representing considerable ownership, are restricted from selling their shares. Generally, a lock-up period is a condition of exercising an employee stock option. Depending on the company, the IPO lock-up period typically lasts between 90–180 days before these shareholders are allowed the right, but not the obligation, to exercise the option.

A red herring prospectus, as a first or preliminary prospectus, is a document submitted by a company (issuer) as part of a public offering of securities. Most frequently associated with an initial public offering (IPO), this document, like the previously submitted Form S-1 registration statement, must be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The underwriting spread is the difference between the amount paid by the underwriting group in a new issue of securities and the price at which securities are offered for sale to the public. It is the underwriter's gross profit margin, usually expressed in points per unit of sale. Spreads may vary widely and are influenced by the underwriter's expectation of market demand for the securities offered for sale, interest rates, and so on.

Share repurchase is the re-acquisition by a company of its own stock. It represents a more flexible way of returning money to shareholders.

A follow-on offering is an issuance of stock subsequent to the company's initial public offering. A follow-on offering can be either of two types : dilutive and non-dilutive. A secondary offering is an offering of securities by a shareholder of the company. A follow on offering is preceded by release of prospectus similar to IPO: a Follow-on Public Offer (FPO).

Book building is a systematic process of generating, capturing, and recording investor demand for shares during an initial public offering (IPO), or other securities during their issuance process, in order to support efficient price discovery. Usually, the issuer appoints a major investment bank to act as a major securities underwriter or bookrunner.

A reverse greenshoe is a special provision in an IPO prospectus, which allows underwriters to sell shares back to the issuer. If a 'regular' greenshoe is, in fact, a call option written by the issuer for the underwriters, a reverse greenshoe is a put option.

An indication of interest (IOI), sometimes expression of interest (EOI), is an expression in finance that demonstrates a buyer's non-binding interest in buying a security in the stock market, often before it is available for purchase. IOIs are not required, but when a firm decides to issue one, they are primarily used on two occasions: before an IPO, and before an institution places a block trade.

A bought out deal is a method of offering securities to the public through a sponsor or underwriter. The securities are listed in one or more stock exchanges within a time frame mutually agreed upon by the company and the sponsor. This option saves the issuing company the costs and time involved in a public issue. The cost of holding the shares can be reimbursed by the company, or the sponsor can offer the shares to the public at a premium to earn profits. Terms are agreed upon by the company and the sponsor.

The social networking company Facebook held its initial public offering (IPO) on Friday, May 18, 2012. The IPO was the biggest in technology and one of the biggest in Internet history, with a peak market capitalization of over $104 billion.

Following is a glossary of stock market terms.


  1. Martin, Alexander, "Line Raises IPO Price Range to Meet Strong Demand" Wall Street Journal, July 4, 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  2. "Company history". Stride Rite. Stride Rite Children's Group LLC. 2012. Archived from the original on 27 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  3. 1 2 "Excerpt from Current Issues and Rulemaking Projects Outline (November 14, 2000)". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 14 November 2000. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  4. "Regulation M, Rule 104". University of Cincinnati, College of Law. Archived from the original on November 16, 2011.
  5. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (January 11, 2005). Securities Law Update(PDF): 2 or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)[ dead link ]
  6. Wilhelm Jr., William (1999). Secondary Market Price Stabilization of Initial Public Offerings. Chestnut Hill, MA 02167: Wallace E. Carroll School of Management. p. 3.
  7. Wilhelm Jr., William (1999). Secondary Market Price Stabilization of Initial Public Offerings. Chestnut Hill, MA 02167: Wallace E. Carroll School of Management. p. 4.