Two‐Sided Matching: How Corporate Issuers and Their Underwriters Choose Each Other
15 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2013
Date Written: Spring 2013
In this article, the authors update and confirm the findings of a 2005 article that was the first to view corporate underwriter choices as the outcome of a two‐sided matching process in which issuers look to the abilities of the underwriters offering their services and underwriters focus on the quality of the issuers that wish to use their services. This view offers a contrast with both the conventional representation of issuer-underwriter associations as one‐sided decisions (by either issuers or underwriters) and the classical economist's representation of a competitive market in which prices serve as the primary market-clearing mechanism. In their examination of both initial public offerings (IPOs) and seasoned equity offerings (SEOs) during the period 1980–2010, the authors continue to find strong evidence that higher-quality issuers associate with more reputable underwriters and lower-quality issuers match with lower reputation underwriters. Moreover, when examining cases of underwriter switching between an IPO and SEOs by the same issuer, they find that cases involving the largest divergence in the relative rankings of issuer and underwriter were the most likely to produce a change of underwriter — and that issuers that experienced larger post‐ IPO increases in quality were more likely to find more reputable underwriters for their SEOs (than for their IPOs). The authors also find that the larger the number of offerings brought to market in a given year, the smaller the market share of the top‐tier underwriters, likely reflecting the willingness of the most reputable underwriters to turn down business to maintain quality and reputation. Finally, the most reputable underwriters appear to benefit from the fact that the issuers whose IPOs they underwrite end up raising larger amounts of capital, both at the time of the IPO and in the larger and more frequent seasoned offerings by such issuers that come after the IPO. This evidence in support of two-sided matching suggests that, especially for high‐quality issuers, the reputation of the underwriters they contract with for security offerings is likely to be more important than the underwriting fees they incur. What's more, the authors' finding that the most reputable underwriters are less likely to lose high‐quality clients and have more stable market share — and that the higher-quality issuers they attract end up raising larger amounts of capital over their lives as public companies — suggests that underwriters' investments in building and preserving their reputations have a large expected payoff.
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