Small businesses face the constant challenge of raising affordable capital to fund business operations. Equity financing comes in a wide range of forms, including venture capital, an initial public offering, business loans and private placement. Established companies may choose the route of an initial public offering to raise capital through selling shares of company stock. However, this strategy can be complex and costly, and it may not be suitable for smaller, less established businesses.
As an alternative to an initial public offering, businesses that want to offer shares to investors can complete a private placement investment. This strategy allows a company to sell shares of company stock to a select group of investors privately instead of the public. Private placement has advantages over other equity financing methods, including less burdensome regulatory requirements, reduced cost and time, and the ability to remain a private company.
Regulatory Requirements for Private Placement
When a company decides to issue shares of an initial public offering, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requires the company to meet a lengthy list of requirements. Detailed financial reporting is necessary once an initial public offering is issued, and any shareholder must be able to access the company's financial statements at any time. This information should provide enough disclosure to investors so they can make informed investment decisions.
Private placements are offered to a small group of select investors instead of the public. So, companies employing this type of financing do not need to comply with the same reporting and disclosure regulations. Instead, private placement financing deals are exempt from SEC regulations under Regulation D. There is less concern from the SEC regarding participating investors' level of investment knowledge because more sophisticated investors (such as pension funds, mutual fund companies and insurance companies) purchase the majority of private placement shares.
Saved Cost and Time
Equity financing deals such as initial public offerings and venture capital often take time to configure and finalize. There are extensive vetting processes in place from the SEC and venture capitalist firms with which companies seeking this type of capital must comply before receiving funds. Completing all the necessary requirements can take up to a year, and the costs associated with doing so can be a burden to the business.
The nature of a private placement makes the funding process much less time-consuming and far less costly for the receiving company. Because no securities registration is necessary, fewer legal fees are associated with this strategy compared to other financing options. Additionally, the smaller number of investors in the deal results in less negotiation before the company receives funding.
Private Means Private
The greatest benefit to a private placement is the company's ability to remain a private company. The exemption under Regulation D allows companies to raise capital while keeping financial records private instead of disclosing information each quarter to the buying public. A business obtaining investment through private placement is also not required to give up a seat on the board of directors or a management position to the group of investors. Instead, control over business operations and financial management remains with the owner, unlike with a venture capital deal.