Public Offering: Its Definition and Types


Key Takeaway:

  • Public offering is a process in which a company offers its securities to the public, allowing investors to purchase shares and become part owners of the company.
  • There are two main types of public offerings: initial public offerings (IPOs), in which a company goes public for the first time, and follow-on offerings, in which a company that is already public issues more shares to raise additional capital.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) plays a critical role in regulating public offerings in the United States. Companies must comply with SEC rules regarding disclosure, reporting, and investor protection in order to conduct a public offering.

Are you considering investing in public offerings? Understand the different types of public offerings and the SEC rules associated with them to make an informed decision. Investing in public offerings can be a great way to diversify your investments and grow your wealth.

Public Offering

Public Offering: Definition, Types, SEC Rules

A public offering is a process where a company offers its securities to the public, such as stocks or bonds. It allows companies to raise capital and provides investors with an opportunity to invest in the company's growth. The process involves registering the offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and complying with their regulations.

When a company decides to go public, it can choose to do so through an initial public offering (IPO) or a follow-on offering. An IPO is when a company offers its securities for the first time to the public, while a follow-on offering is when a company already public issues additional securities. There are also different types of public offerings, such as a fixed-price offering or a Dutch auction.

The SEC regulates public offerings to protect investors from fraud and ensure that companies disclose all relevant information. Companies must provide a prospectus, which is a document that includes details about the offering and the company's financials. The SEC also requires companies to follow strict reporting requirements after going public.

Pro Tip: Before investing in a public offering, investors should carefully review the prospectus and conduct their own research to make an informed decision.


To grasp public offering's meaning, you must dive deep into its definition. Here, we focus on explaining it and its importance. We split this section into two sub-sections:

  1. Types of Public Offerings.

This will help you understand the offering process better.

Explanation of Public Offering

For those unfamiliar, a public offering is the process in which a private corporation makes shares of its stock available to the general public for purchase. This can be accomplished in four different ways:

  1. Initial public offerings (IPOs)
  2. Direct listings
  3. Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs)
  4. Follow-on offerings

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has strict rules in place for companies wanting to go public, including required disclosures and financial reporting.

Get your popcorn ready, because the types of public offerings are about to put on a show.

Types of Public Offerings

Public offerings come in different types, each with unique characteristics. These include the Initial Public Offering (IPO), Secondary Offering and Follow-On Offering.

IPOs are the first time a company offers its shares to the public via an exchange. Secondary offerings occur when existing shareholders sell their stock to the public, while Follow-On Offerings are when companies issue more shares to raise additional capital.

  • IPO: An Initial Public Offering is the most common type of public offering where companies offer their shares publicly for the first time.
  • Secondary Offering: A Secondary Offering happens when companies that already have public shares offer more stocks to the public or sell their shares from current stakeholders.
  • Follow-On Offering: A Follow-On offering is made by companies with already issued securities that add more stocks for trading on a public exchange.

It's important to note that IPOs can represent significant opportunities for growth but also carry significant potential risks. Dilution of control, leakages of proprietary information, regulatory scrutiny and market volatility are some threats associated with going public.

According to Investopedia, Facebook held one of the largest IPOs in history in 2012, raising $16 billion.

SEC rules are like a traffic cop, keeping companies in line and preventing them from running red lights with investors' money.

SEC Rules

SEC rules for public offerings? Get to know two key sub-sections. The first one? Overview of SEC Rules. The second? Requirements for public offerings. Understand the regulations and expectations that come with publicly offering securities by digging into these sub-sections.

Overview of SEC Rules

SEC Regulations Explained: Types and Definitions

The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) is a regulatory body that governs public companies in the United States. SEC rules relate to the registration and disclosure requirements for securities transactions, including public offerings. These rules regulate how securities are offered, sold, and traded in the United States.

Public Offering: Types and Rules

A public offering refers to the process of selling shares in a company or organization to the general public. The process is regulated by SEC rules, which differ depending on the type of offering. There are two main types of public offerings; initial public offerings (IPOs) and secondary offerings. IPOs occur when a private company becomes publicly traded, while secondary offerings involve an already publicly traded company issuing new shares.

Different SEC rules apply to each type of offering; however, all public offerings must comply with the SEC's registration requirements under the Securities Act of 1933. This act requires companies to disclose information about their financial status, business operations, management team, risk factors and any other material information relevant to potential investors.

Notably, any investor may purchase shares offered through a registered prospectus without restriction. Additionally, only accredited investors who meet certain criteria may invest in unregistered securities.

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Requirements for Public Offerings under SEC Rules

Public offerings must meet specific requirements under SEC rules. These include submitting a registration statement, providing comprehensive financial disclosure and complying with regulatory standards. To ensure compliance, issuers should hire legal counsel and accounting professionals.

Moreover, the SEC distinguishes between two types of public offerings: initial public offerings (IPOs) and secondary public offerings. While both require detailed disclosures, IPOs involve a company's first sale of stock to the public. Secondary offerings entail the issuance of additional shares by companies already listed on an exchange.

To avoid penalties for non-compliance, issuers must adhere to strict regulations. In 2018, Altaba Inc., formerly known as Yahoo! Inc., reached a $35 million settlement with the SEC for failing to disclose a 2014 data breach in its securities filings. Following this incident, Yahoo! faced numerous lawsuits from investors who claimed that they suffered losses due to the company s misconduct.

Five Facts About Public Offering: Definition, Types, SEC Rules:

  • ✅ A public offering is a process by which a company raises capital by selling its shares to the public. (Source: Investopedia)
  • ✅ The two main types of public offerings are Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and Follow-On Offerings (FPOs). (Source: Forbes)
  • ✅ The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates public offerings in the United States to ensure transparency and protect investors. (Source: SEC)
  • ✅ Companies must meet specific requirements and provide certain information to the SEC before they can conduct public offerings. (Source: Wall Street Prep)
  • ✅ Public offerings can be a significant source of funding for companies, but they also involve risks and potential downsides. (Source: Harvard Business Review)

FAQs about Public Offering: Definition, Types, Sec Rules

What is a public offering?

A public offering is the process of offering securities for sale to the general public, which can include stocks, bonds, or other types of investments.

What are the different types of public offerings?

There are several types of public offerings, including initial public offerings (IPOs), follow-on offerings, secondary offerings, and shelf offerings.

What are the SEC rules for public offerings?

The SEC has several rules and regulations in place to govern public offerings, including requirements for companies to register their securities, file prospectuses with the SEC, and comply with disclosure requirements.

What is an initial public offering?

An initial public offering (IPO) is the process by which a private company offers shares of its stock to the public for the first time. This is typically done to raise capital and provide liquidity for the company's owners and employees.

What is a follow-on offering?

A follow-on offering is a public offering of a company's securities that takes place after an initial public offering (IPO). This allows the company to raise additional capital while also providing liquidity for existing shareholders.

What is a secondary offering?

A secondary offering is a public offering of a company's securities that is made by existing shareholders, rather than the company itself. These offerings are often done to provide liquidity for existing shareholders or to enable insiders to sell their shares.