Flotation

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DEFINITION of 'Flotation'

The process of changing a private company into a public company by issuing shares and soliciting the public to purchase them. Flotation allows companies to obtain financing from outside the company instead of using retained earnings to fund a new project or expansion. The term "flotation" is commonly used in the United Kingdom; the term "going public" is more widely used in the United States.

BREAKING DOWN 'Flotation'

Flotation requires careful considerations regarding timing, company structure, the company's ability to withstand public scrutiny, increased regulatory compliance costs and the time involved in effecting the flotation and attracting investors. While flotation provides access to new sources of capital, flotation costs - the expenses associated with issuing new stock - must be accounted for when consider the switch from private to public company. Flotation costs mean it is more expensive to finance a project with new shareholder capital than with retained earnings.



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