Rights issue

A rights issue is a method by which a company raises capital by offering existing shareholders the right to purchase additional shares at a discounted price before offering them to the public.
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Updated: Jun 11, 2024

3 key takeaways

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  • A rights issue allows existing shareholders to purchase additional shares at a discounted price, proportional to their current holdings.
  • This method is used by companies to raise capital for various purposes, such as expanding operations, paying off debt, or funding new projects.
  • Rights issues can affect the stock price and ownership structure of a company, providing both opportunities and risks for shareholders.

What is a rights issue?

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A rights issue is a corporate finance tool used by companies to raise additional capital by offering new shares to existing shareholders at a discounted price. Shareholders receive “rights” that entitle them to purchase a specific number of additional shares in proportion to their existing holdings.

These rights are often transferable, allowing shareholders to sell them on the market if they choose not to exercise them.

Rights issues are commonly used when a company needs to raise funds for growth initiatives, debt reduction, or other financial needs. By giving existing shareholders the first opportunity to buy new shares, the company ensures that its current owners can maintain their proportional ownership and potentially benefit from the discounted price.

How does a rights issue work?

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A rights issue involves several steps to ensure that existing shareholders have the opportunity to purchase new shares at a discounted price. Here are the main components of how a rights issue works:

Announcement and terms

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The company announces the rights issue and provides details, including the number of new shares to be issued, the price at which they will be offered, the ratio of new shares to existing shares, and the timeline for the offer.

For example, a company might offer one new share for every five shares held at a 20% discount to the current market price.

Rights allocation

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Shareholders receive rights based on their current holdings. These rights can be exercised to purchase new shares at the discounted price or sold on the market if they are transferable. The rights typically have an expiration date, by which time shareholders must decide whether to exercise or sell them.

Subscription and payment

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Shareholders who choose to exercise their rights must subscribe for the new shares and make the necessary payment. The company collects the funds raised from the rights issue and issues the new shares to the subscribing shareholders.

Example scenario

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Consider a company with 1,000,000 shares outstanding, trading at $10 per share. The company announces a rights issue offering one new share for every five shares held at a price of $8 per share.

A shareholder with 500 shares would receive 100 rights (500/5) and could purchase 100 additional shares at $8 each, totaling $800. If the shareholder exercises all their rights, they would now own 600 shares, and the company would raise $800 from this shareholder alone.

Importance of rights issues

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Rights issues are important for several reasons, particularly in raising capital, providing opportunities for existing shareholders, and influencing the company’s stock price and ownership structure:

Raising capital

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Rights issues enable companies to raise significant amounts of capital without incurring debt. This additional capital can be used for various purposes, such as expanding operations, funding new projects, or paying off existing debt, thereby improving the company’s financial position.

Opportunities for existing shareholders

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By offering new shares to existing shareholders at a discounted price, rights issues provide an opportunity for shareholders to increase their ownership stake at a favorable rate. This can be particularly advantageous if the company is expected to perform well in the future.

Impact on stock price and ownership

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Rights issues can affect a company’s stock price and ownership structure. While the issuance of new shares can dilute the ownership percentage of existing shares, the infusion of capital can also lead to improved financial health and potentially higher stock prices in the long term.

Shareholders must weigh the benefits of buying additional shares against the potential dilution of their existing holdings.

Benefits and limitations of rights issues

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Understanding the benefits and limitations of rights issues provides insight into their practical applications and implications.

Benefits

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  • Capital raising: Rights issues allow companies to raise funds without increasing debt, improving their financial flexibility.
  • Shareholder opportunity: Existing shareholders have the first opportunity to purchase new shares at a discounted price, potentially benefiting from favorable terms.
  • Preserving ownership: Rights issues enable shareholders to maintain their proportional ownership in the company, preventing dilution of their stakes.

Limitations

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  • Dilution risk: If shareholders choose not to exercise their rights, their ownership percentage may be diluted as new shares are issued.
  • Market impact: The announcement of a rights issue can initially lead to a decline in the company’s stock price due to the perceived dilution and increased supply of shares.
  • Execution risk: The success of a rights issue depends on shareholder participation and market conditions, which can impact the amount of capital raised.

Examples of rights issues in practice

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To better understand rights issues, consider these practical examples that highlight their application in different contexts:

Example 1: Financial restructuring

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A company facing financial difficulties might use a rights issue to raise capital for debt repayment and restructuring. By offering new shares to existing shareholders at a discounted price, the company can improve its balance sheet and financial stability without taking on additional debt.

Example 2: Growth funding

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A rapidly growing company might announce a rights issue to fund expansion projects, such as opening new facilities or entering new markets. The additional capital raised through the rights issue supports the company’s growth initiatives, enhancing its competitive position.

Example 3: Strategic acquisitions

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A company planning a strategic acquisition might use a rights issue to finance the purchase. By raising capital through the rights issue, the company can complete the acquisition without relying solely on debt financing, thereby maintaining a healthier balance sheet.

Rights issues are an essential tool for companies to raise capital, providing opportunities for existing shareholders while potentially impacting stock prices and ownership structures. If you’re interested in learning more about related topics, you might want to read about equity financing, shareholder rights, and capital raising strategies.



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Arti
AI Financial Assistant
Arti is a specialized AI Financial Assistant at Invezz, created to support the editorial team. He leverages both AI and the Invezz.com knowledge base, understands over 100,000... read more.