Explain the Types of Underwriting Agreement

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When a company decides to issue new securities, it often needs assistance from investment banks to underwrite the offering. An underwriting agreement is a contract between the issuer and the underwriter(s), outlining the responsibilities of each party and specifying the terms of the offering. There are various types of underwriting agreements commonly used in securities offerings, which we will explain in this article.

1. Firm commitment underwriting agreement

In a firm commitment underwriting agreement, the underwriter agrees to purchase all the securities being offered by the issuer. This means that if the securities do not sell to the public, the underwriter is required to purchase them and hold them in its own account. The issuer receives the proceeds from the sale when the underwriter resells the securities to the public. This type of agreement offers the issuer certainty that the offering will be completed, but it also places a great deal of risk on the underwriter.

2. Best efforts underwriting agreement

In a best efforts underwriting agreement, the underwriter agrees to use its best efforts to sell all the securities on behalf of the issuer. However, the underwriter is not obligated to purchase the securities if it cannot find enough buyers. This places more risk on the issuer than in a firm commitment underwriting agreement, but it also allows the issuer to retain more control over the offering.

3. Bought deal underwriting agreement

A bought deal underwriting agreement is similar to a firm commitment underwriting agreement, but it is used for larger offerings. In a bought deal, the underwriter agrees to purchase all the securities from the issuer and then resell them to other investors. The underwriter takes on all the risk of the offering, so this type of agreement is usually only used for large, well-established companies.

4. Standby underwriting agreement

In a standby underwriting agreement, the underwriter agrees to purchase any securities that are not sold in a rights offering. A rights offering allows existing shareholders to purchase additional shares of the company at a discounted price. If not all of the new shares are sold, the standby underwriter steps in and purchases the remainder.

In conclusion, choosing the type of underwriting agreement for a securities offering requires careful consideration of the risks and benefits for both the issuer and the underwriter. By understanding the various types of underwriting agreements, companies can make informed decisions about how to best underwrite their securities offerings.