Paolo Fulghieri and Matthew Spiegel

A Theory of the Distribution of Underpriced Initial Public Offers by Investment Banks

It is well documented that a firm may choose to offer underpriced securities in an initial public offer. An open question is why investment banks do not retain underpriced offers in their portfolio. We argue that the distribution of underpriced securities allows banks of high qualify to signal their value to their customers, promoting in this way their other product lines. We show that the total dollar value of underpriced securities distributed (rather than the percentage value) acts as the signal. We also find that, all else equal, larger customers and those with more elastic demand functions receive n larger total dollar value of underpricing.