A Theory of the Going-Public Decision
Posted: 6 Dec 1998
We address the question: At what stage in its life should a firm go public, rather than undertake its projects using private equity financing? In our model, a firm may raise external financing either by placing shares privately with a risk-averse venture capitalist, or by selling shares in an IPO to numerous small investors. The entrepreneur has private information about his firm's value, but outsiders can reduce this informational disadvantage by evaluating the firm at a cost. The equilibrium timing of the going-public decision is determined by the firm's trade-off between minimizing the duplication in information production by outsiders (unavoidable in the IPO market, but mitigated by a publicly observable share price) and avoiding the risk-premium demanded by venture capitalists. Testable implications are developed for the cross-sectional variations in the age of going-public across industries and countries.
JEL Classification: G31, G32
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