Lead Underwriter

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Lead Underwriter'

A investment bank or other financial outfit that has the primary directive for organizing an initial public stock offering, or a secondary offering for companies that are already publicly traded. The lead underwriter will usually work with other investment banks to establish a syndicate, and thereby create the initial sales force for the shares. These shares will then be sold to institutional and retail clients.

The lead underwriter will assess the company financials and current market conditions to arrive at the initial value and quantity of shares to be sold. These shares carry a hefty sales commission (as much as 6-8%) for the underwriting syndicate, with the majority of shares being held by the lead underwriter.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Lead Underwriter'

Being the lead underwriter for a stock offering, especially an initial public offering (IPO), can bring a large payday if the market shows high demand for the shares. Often the stock issuer will allow the lead underwriter to create an over-allotment of shares if demand is high, which can bring in even more money to the underwriting firm. There are substantial risks involved in underwriting stock offerings - any one company could plummet in the open market once public trading begins. This is why the large investment banks, such as Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and others will look to conduct many diverse offerings in the course of a year.

One or two great stock offerings a year can be enough to meet company earnings targets, but market conditions as a whole will determine the relative amount of profit the investment banks can earn. In the zooming market phase of the late-1990s, investment banks were making money hand over fist as eager investors gobbled up any new shares that came to market, and traded them much higher once on the exchange. However, when the market collapsed in late-2000, the underwriting community went into hibernation mode, advising even the best private companies to "wait out the storm" before going public.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Investment Bank - IB

    A financial intermediary that performs a variety of services. ...
  2. Prospectus

    A formal legal document, which is required by and filed with ...
  3. Underwriting

    1. The process by which investment bankers raise investment capital ...
  4. Greenshoe Option

    A provision contained in an underwriting agreement that gives ...
  5. Investment Banker

    An individual who works in a financial institution that is in ...
  6. Initial Public Offering - IPO

    The first sale of stock by a private company to the public. IPOs ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How do I become an underwriter?

    To become an insurance underwriter, you typically need a bachelor's degree. However, some employers may hire you as an underwriter ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. In an IPO, who is a greensheet distributed to and for what purpose?

    One of the most talked about documents that arises in the process of introducing a new issue is the greensheet. This is an ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What does 'going public' mean?

    Going public refers to a private company's initial public offering (IPO), thus becoming a publicly traded and owned entity. ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Insurance

    Is Insurance Underwriting Right For You?

    If you have excellent analytical skills and an eye for detail, this may be your calling.
  2. Investing

    5 Tips For Investing In IPOs

    Thinking of investing in IPOs? Here are five things to remember before jumping into these murky waters.
  3. Retirement

    IPO Basics Tutorial

    What's an IPO, and how did everybody get so rich off them during the dotcom boom? We give you the scoop.
  4. Fundamental Analysis

    Private vs Public Equity: What's Best?

    What is the better way for a company to attract investors; by making its stock available for sale to whoever wants some, or by petitioning rich people?
  5. Entrepreneurship

    Which is The Best Bank for Your Buck, BAC or MS?

    One things stands out between these financial services giants when it comes to investing in them.
  6. Investing

    3 Major Risks For Annaly’s Investors

    Thanks to its double-digit dividend yield, Annaly Capital Management has long been a favorite among income-seeking investors.
  7. Investing

    Additional Paid-In Capital

    Additional paid-in capital is an account in the equity section of a balance sheet. It represents the additional amount paid for the company’s shares over the par value of the shares. Additional ...
  8. Investing

    What's Investment Banking?

    An investment bank is a special type of bank involved in a variety of large and complex financial services for major institutions.
  9. Trading Strategies

    Is Goldman Sachs Still A Winner?

    Goldman Sachs might not be the best dividend play out there, but there are other reasons you might want to consider it as an investment.
  10. Investing

    Top 10 Largest Global IPOs Of All Time

    We have compiled a list of the top 10 largest IPOs of all time. The results may surprise you.

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Risk Averse

    A description of an investor who, when faced with two investments with a similar expected return (but different risks), will ...
  2. Fixed-Charge Coverage Ratio

    A ratio that indicates a firm's ability to satisfy fixed financing expenses, such as interest and leases. It is calculated ...
  3. Efficiency Ratio

    Ratios that are typically used to analyze how well a company uses its assets and liabilities internally. Efficiency Ratios ...
  4. Fixed Cost

    A cost that does not change with an increase or decrease in the amount of goods or services produced. Fixed costs are expenses ...
  5. Subsidy

    A benefit given by the government to groups or individuals usually in the form of a cash payment or tax reduction. The subsidy ...
  6. Sunk Cost

    A cost that has already been incurred and thus cannot be recovered. A sunk cost differs from other, future costs that a business ...
Trading Center