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What is a 'Secondary Offering'

1. The issuance of new stock for public sale from a company that has already made its initial public offering (IPO). Usually, these kinds of public offerings are made by companies wishing to refinance, or raise capital for growth. Money raised from these kinds of secondary offerings goes to the company, through the investment bank that underwrites the offering. Investment banks are issued an allotment, and possibly an overallotment which they may choose to exercise if there is a strong possibility of making money on the spread between the allotment price and the selling price of the securities.

2. A sale of securities in which one or more major stockholders in a company sell all or a large portion of their holdings. The proceeds of this sale are paid to the stockholders that sell their shares. Often, the company that issued the shares holds a large percentage of the stocks it issues.

BREAKING DOWN 'Secondary Offering'

1. This sort of secondary public offering is a way for a company to increase outstanding stock and spread market capitalization (the company's value) over a greater number of shares. Secondary offerings in which new shares are underwritten and sold dilute the ownership position of stockholders who own shares that were issued in the IPO.

2. Typically, such an offering occurs when the founders of a business (and perhaps some of the original financial backers) determine that they would like to decrease their positions in the company. This kind of secondary offering is common in the years following an IPO, after the termination of the lock-up period. Owners of closely held companies sell shares to loosen their position - usually gradually, so that the company's share price doesn't plummet as a result of high selling volume. This kind of offering does not increase the number of shares of stock on the market, and it is most commonly performed in the case of a company that is very thinly traded. Secondary offerings of this sort do not dilute owners' holdings, and no new shares are released. There is no "new" underwriting process in this kind of offering.

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