DEFINITION of 'Registration Right'

A right which entitles an investor who owns restricted stock the ability to require a company to list the shares publicly so that the investor can sell them. Registration rights, if exercised, can force a privately-held company to become a publicly-traded company. These rights are usually assigned when a private company issues shares in order to raise money.

BREAKING DOWN 'Registration Right'

Registration rights can help investors holding private shares gain access to the broader market in order to sell shares, but can have significant impacts on the company. The private company would have to go through the IPO filing process, which is likely to be expensive. Employees will have to dedicate time to organizing material required for filing instead of focusing on day-to-day business operations. The IPO might also wind up reaching the market at an inopportune time, which could lead to the share price being lower than desired.

Rights are typically negotiated when privately held shares are purchased. Typical negotiation points include the number of rights allotted to the investor, with management likely preferring fewer rights due to IPO expenses. The company may prevent registration rights from being enacted for several years, especially if the company is in the early stages of raising funds. This prevents the company from being pushed public before it has operated long enough to be stable. It is in the company’s interest to limit the effect of the registration right.

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