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A reverse takeover or reverse merger takeover (reverse IPO) is the acquisition of a public company by a private company so that the private company can bypass the lengthy and complex process of going public.The transaction typically requires reorganization of capitalization of the acquiring company. Sometimes, conversely, the private company is bought by the public listed company through an asset swap and share issue.
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.
A public company, publicly traded company, publicly held company, publicly listed company, or public limited company is a corporation whose ownership is dispersed among the general public in many shares of stock which are freely traded on a stock exchange or in over the counter markets. In some jurisdictions, public companies over a certain size must be listed on an exchange. A public company can be listed or unlisted.
In a reverse takeover, shareholders of the private company purchase control of the public shell company and then merge it with the private company. The publicly traded corporation is called a "shell" since all that exists of the original company is its organizational structure. The private company shareholders receive a substantial majority of the shares of the public company and control of its board of directors. The transaction can be accomplished within weeks.
A board of directors is a group of people who jointly supervise the activities of an organization, which can be either a for-profit business, nonprofit organization, or a government agency. Such a board's powers, duties, and responsibilities are determined by government regulations and the organization's own constitution and bylaws. These authorities may specify the number of members of the board, how they are to be chosen, and how often they are to meet.
The transaction involves the private and shell company exchanging information on each other, negotiating the merger terms, and signing a share exchange agreement. At the closing, the shell company issues a substantial majority of its shares and board control to the shareholders of the private company. The private company's shareholders pay for the shell company by contributing their shares in the private company to the shell company that they now control. This share exchange and change of control completes the reverse takeover, transforming the formerly privately held company into a publicly held company.
In the United States, if the shell is an SEC-registered company, the private company does not go through an expensive and time-consuming review with state and federal regulators because this process was completed beforehand with the public company. However, a comprehensive disclosure document containing audited financial statements and significant legal disclosures is required by the Securities and Exchange Commission for reporting issuers. The disclosure is filed on Form 8-K and is filed immediately upon completion of the reverse merger transaction.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is an independent agency of the United States federal government. The SEC holds primary responsibility for enforcing the federal securities laws, proposing securities rules, and regulating the securities industry, the nation's stock and options exchanges, and other activities and organizations, including the electronic securities markets in the United States.
The advantages of public trading status include the possibility of commanding a higher price for a later offering of the company's securities. Going public through a reverse takeover allows a privately held company to become publicly held at a lesser cost, and with less stock dilution than through an initial public offering (IPO). While the process of going public and raising capital is combined in an IPO, in a reverse takeover, these two functions are separate. A company can go public without raising additional capital. Separating these two functions greatly simplifies the process.
Stock dilution, also known as equity dilution, is the decrease in existing shareholders’ ownership of a company as a result of the company issuing new equity. New equity increases the total shares outstanding which has a dilutive effect on the ownership percentage of existing shareholders. This increase in the number of shares outstanding can result from a primary market offering, employees exercising stock options, or by issuance or conversion of convertible bonds, preferred shares or warrants into stock. This dilution can shift fundamental positions of the stock such as ownership percentage, voting control, earnings per share, and the value of individual shares.
In addition, a reverse takeover is less susceptible to market conditions. Conventional IPOs are risky for companies to undertake because the deal relies on market conditions, over which senior management has little control. If the market is off, the underwriter may pull the offering. The market also does not need to plunge wholesale. If a company in registration participates in an industry that's making unfavorable headlines, investors may shy away from the deal. In a reverse takeover, since the deal rests solely between those controlling the public and private companies, market conditions have little bearing on the situation.
The process for a conventional IPO can last for a year or more. When a company transitions from an entrepreneurial venture to a public company fit for outside ownership, how time is spent by strategic managers can be beneficial or detrimental. Time spent in meetings and drafting sessions related to an IPO can have a disastrous effect on the growth upon which the offering is predicated, and may even nullify it. In addition, during the many months it takes to put an IPO together, market conditions can deteriorate, making the completion of an IPO unfavorable. By contrast, a reverse takeover can be completed in as little as thirty days.
A 2013 study by Charles Lee of Stanford University found that: "Chinese reverse mergers performed much better than their reputation" and had performed better than other similar sized publicly traded companies in the same industrial sector.
Leland Stanford Junior University is a private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is known for its academic strength, wealth, proximity to Silicon Valley, and ranking as one of the world's top universities.
Reverse takeovers always come with some history and some shareholders. Sometimes this history can be bad and manifest itself in the form of currently sloppy records, pending lawsuits and other unforeseen liabilities. Additionally, these shells may sometimes come with angry or deceitful shareholders who are anxious to "dump" their stock at the first chance they get.
One way the acquiring or surviving company can safeguard against the "dump" after the takeover is consummated is by requiring a lockup on the shares owned by the group from which they are purchasing the public shell. Other shareholders that have held stock as investors in the company being acquired pose no threat in a dump scenario because the number of shares they hold is not significant.
On June 9, 2011, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission issued an investor bulletin cautioning investors about investing in reverse mergers, stating that they may be prone to fraud and other abuses.
Reverse mergers may have other drawbacks. Private-company CEOs may be naive and inexperienced in the world of publicly traded companies unless they have past experience as an officer or director of a public company. In addition, reverse merger transactions only introduce liquidity to a previously private stock if there is bona fide public interest in the company. A comprehensive investor relations and investor marketing program may be an indirect cost of a reverse merger.
The greater number of financing options available to publicly held companies is a primary reason to undergo a reverse takeover. These financing options include:
In addition, the now-publicly held company obtains the benefits of public trading of its securities:
In all of these cases—except for that of US Airways and America West Airlines—shareholders of the acquiree controlled the resulting entity. With US Airways and America West Airlines, US Airways creditors (not shareholders) were left with control.
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are transactions in which the ownership of companies, other business organizations, or their operating units are transferred or consolidated with other entities. As an aspect of strategic management, M&A can allow enterprises to grow or downsize, and change the nature of their business or competitive position.
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 business, a takeover is the purchase of one company by another. In the UK, the term refers to the acquisition of a public company whose shares are listed on a stock exchange, in contrast to the acquisition of a private company.
A shareholder is an individual or institution that legally owns one or more shares of stock in a public or private corporation. Shareholders may be referred to as members of a corporation. Legally, a person is not a shareholder in a corporation until their name and other details are entered in the corporation‘s register of shareholders or members.
A stock swap is the exchange of one equity-based asset for another. During a merger or acquisition of a company, a stock swap provides an opportunity to pay with stock rather than with cash.
Euronext N.V. is a European stock exchange operator with its registered office in Amsterdam and other markets operated in Brussels, London, Lisbon, Dublin, and Paris. In addition to cash and derivatives markets, the Euronext group provides listing market data, market solutions, custody and settlement services. Its total product offering includes equities, exchange-traded funds, warrants and certificates, bonds, derivatives, commodities and indices as well as a foreign exchange trading platform.
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.
A private investment in public equity, often called a PIPE deal, involves the selling of publicly traded common shares or some form of preferred stock or convertible security to private investors. It is an allocation of shares in a public company not through a public offering in a stock exchange. PIPE deals are part of the primary market. In the U.S., a PIPE offering may be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission on a registration statement or may be completed as an unregistered private placement.
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 special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) is a type of investment fund that allows public stock market investors to invest in private equity type transactions, particularly leveraged buyouts. SPACs are shell or blank-check companies that have no operations but go public with the intention of merging with or acquiring a company with the proceeds of the SPAC's initial public offering (IPO).
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).
An alternative public offering (APO) is the combination of a reverse merger with a simultaneous private investment of public equity (PIPE). It allows companies an alternative to an initial public offering (IPO) as a means of going public while raising capital.
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.
Following is a glossary of stock market terms.
Circular trading is a type of securities fraud that can take place in stock markets, causing price manipulation and often related to pump and dump schemes. Circular trading occurs when identical sell orders are entered at the same time with the same number of shares and the same price. As a result, there is no beneficial change in ownership of shares, but there is the appearance of an increased trade volume. Circular trading can be achieved by several parties colluding to achieve the fraudulent outcome. This is not to be confused with wash trading, which is where the same outcome is achieved but occurs through the actions of one investor, rather than a group.
Chinese reverse mergers within the United States are accountable for 85% of all foreign reverse mergers in the early 21st century. A reverse merger, also known as a reverse takeover, is where a private company acquires a publicly traded firm or “shell company” that has essentially zero value on a registered stock exchange. The shell company's securities since becoming dormant are not registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, where transactions on the secondary market are monitored. Reverse mergers in US markets and other countries had occurred in the past, but a large wave of Chinese companies came to the scene in the early 2000s.