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What is a 'Share Premium Account'

A share premium account is typically listed on a company’s balance sheet. This account is credited for money paid, or promised to be paid, by a shareholder for a share, but only when the shareholder pays more than the cost of a share. This account can be used to write off equity-related expenses, such as underwriting costs, and may also be used to issue bonus shares.

BREAKING DOWN 'Share Premium Account'

Share premium can be thought of as the difference between the par value of a company’s shares and the total amount a company received for shares recently issued. For example, Company ABC has issued 300 shares of its stock. The shares are given a par value or are valued at $10 each; however, the company has been paid $15 per share.

Thus, the company has $4,500 in equity capital. Of this $4,500, only $3,000 is share capital. The remaining $1,500 is share premium, representing funds generated from shareholders as a return for their partial ownership of the company. The $1,500 appears on company’s balance sheet in the share premium account.

Share Premium Account Ebb and Flow

Over a period of time, the balance of the share premium account increases and decreases. This is because it is standard operating practice for a company to issue new shares that fall in line with the shares' current market value instead of shares’ arbitrary par value.

Continuing with Company ABC from the example above, over a two-year period, it suffers downswings in the market and is paid $6 per share on 100 new shares issued in the first six months of the two-year time period. This is a $4 discount per share to par value, and thus subtracts $400 from the share premium account, leaving it at $1,100. However, in the later portion of the two-year period, the company experiences a surge in the market. It issues 400 new shares with a par value of $20 per share. Shareholders pay $35 per share, adding $6,000 to the share premium account, leaving the account’s balance at more than $7,100.

Uses for Share Premium Account 

The share premium account is a reserve that cannot be distributed. A company can use the balance of the account only for purposes that have been established in its bylaws. In most cases, a company cannot use the account to pay out dividends to shareholders or to offset operating losses. The share premium account is usually utilized to pay off equity expenses, which include underwriter fees. The account can also be used in the issuance of bonus shares and for costs or expenses related to this issuance.

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