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      What Happens to My Shares If a Company Goes Private?

      By Hasnain R

      Published on

      June 1, 2023

      7:55 AM UTC

      Last Updated on

      June 5, 2023

      7:59 AM UTC

      What Happens to My Shares If a Company Goes Private?

      Investors who purchase shares in public companies typically expect their investments to appreciate over time. However, what happens to my shares if a company goes private and no longer trades its shares on the public market?

      This can be a confusing and unsettling situation for investors, particularly if they’re unsure of what to expect. In this article, we will explore the process of what happens to my shares if a company goes private.

      We will also discuss the different ways that investors can potentially profit from or protect their investments in this scenario.

      Understanding Going Private Transactions

      Going private is a term used to describe the process by which a publicly-traded company transitions to being privately held. In this process, a group of investors, including management, buys all outstanding shares of the company’s stock and takes it off the public market.

      Going private transactions can occur for a variety of reasons, including reducing regulatory requirements, increasing management’s control over the company with shares, or allowing for more long-term planning without the pressure of short-term performance expectations from shareholders.

      Do Private Companies Have Shareholders?

      Yes, private companies do have shareholders, but they are not publicly traded and their shares are not available for purchase on stock exchanges.

      Instead, private companies’ shares are typically held by a small group of investors, such as the company’s founders, management team, or private equity firms. Private companies may also issue shares to employees as part of their compensation package.

      What is a Going Private Transaction?

      A going private transaction is a process through which a publicly-traded company becomes a privately-held company, typically through the acquisition of all outstanding shares by a group of investors or the company’s management team.

      This transition allows the company with shares to operate without the scrutiny of public shareholders and to implement strategies that may not have been feasible under public ownership.

      While going private transactions can result in higher returns for shareholders, it can also lead to uncertainty and risk, particularly for those who hold shares in the company at the time of the transaction.

      Reasons for Going Private

      A company may choose to go private for several reasons, such as

      • Increased Control

        Taking the company private allows the management to have more control over its operations and strategic decisions without having to worry about quarterly earnings expectations or shareholder relations.

      • Cost Savings

        Regulating and complying with regulatory requirements can be time-consuming and expensive for public companies. Taking the company private can save the company money on these costs.

      • Long-Term Focus

        Public companies often face pressure from shareholders to deliver short-term results, while going private allows the company to focus on long-term growth and profitability.

      • Valuation

        Some companies believe their stock is undervalued by the public market, and going private may allow them to buy back shares at a lower price.

      • Privacy

        When a company goes private, it can enjoy greater privacy and confidentiality in terms of its operations and finances.

      Types of Going Private Transactions

      There are several types of going private transactions, including:

      • Management Buyouts (MBOS)

        This occurs when the management team of a company buys out outstanding shares from public investors and takes the company private. MBOs are usually financed by a combination of debt and equity.

      • Leveraged Buyouts (LBOS)

        In an LBO, a private equity firm acquires a controlling stake in a public company by using a significant amount of borrowed money to finance the transaction. The acquired company then becomes a private entity.

      • Merger or Acquisition

        Occasionally, a company may merge with or be acquired by another private company in order to go private. The transaction can be conducted in cash, stock, or both.

      • Reverse Merger

        A reverse merger occurs when a private company merges with a public company with little or no assets. In this case, the private company becomes a public company, while the public company becomes a subsidiary of the private company.

      • Tender Offer

        An offer to purchase shares of a company’s stock at a premium over its current market price is a tender offer. In a going private transaction, a tender offer may be made by the company’s management or a private equity firm to buy out the remaining public shareholders.

      Implications of Going Private Transactions for Shareholders

      What happens to my shares if a company goes private? It can have significant implications including changes in their rights, considerations to be made, effects on share prices, and tax implications.

      • Rights of Shareholders in a Going Private Transaction

        Shareholders have certain rights, such as the right to vote on the transaction and the right to receive a fair price for their shares. However, the company and its buyer may structure the deal in a way that may not provide the best price for shareholders.

      • Considerations for Shareholders in a Going Private Transaction

        Shareholders should carefully consider the terms of the transaction and seek advice from financial and legal advisors before making any decisions. They should also consider the future prospects of the company and the potential for greater or lesser returns if they continue to hold their shares.

      • Effect of Going Private on Share Prices

        The announcement of a going private transaction can often result in a significant increase in share prices as investors anticipate a premium price for their shares. However, once the transaction is completed, share prices may decrease as the stock is no longer publicly traded.

      • Tax Implications for Shareholders

        Going private transactions may have tax implications for shareholders, particularly if they receive cash or stock as part of the transaction. Shareholders should seek advice from a tax professional to understand their tax obligations and potential liabilities.

      Process of Going Private Transactions

      When a company decides to go private, it’s essential to understand the steps and implications of such transactions. Here are some of the main steps involved in a going private transaction and what happens to your shares in the process:

      Steps Involved in a Going Private Transaction

      • Proposal: A proposal to go private is made by the company’s management or an outside investor group.
      • Evaluation: The board of directors evaluates the proposal and decides if it is in the best interest of the shareholders.
      • Negotiation: If the board approves the proposal, negotiations between the company and the investor group begin.
      • Due Diligence: The investor group conducts due diligence to ensure the company’s financial and legal compliance.
      • Financing: The investor group secures financing to complete the transaction.
      • Shareholder Vote: A shareholder vote is held to approve the transaction.
      • Closing: If the transaction is approved, the company goes private.

      Role of the Board of Directors

      The board of directors plays a crucial role in the going private process. They must evaluate the proposal and determine if it is in the best interest of the shareholders. They also negotiate the terms of the transaction and ensure that due diligence is conducted.

      Role of Shareholders

      Shareholders have the final say in whether a company goes private. They vote on the proposal and must approve the transaction for it to proceed.

      Role of the SEC

      The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates going private transactions to ensure that they are fair to shareholders. The SEC requires that shareholders are provided with all necessary information and that the transaction is conducted in a transparent and fair manner.

      Conclusion

      In conclusion, shareholders must consider several factors when it comes to going private transactions, including the reasons for the move, the types of transactions, and the steps involved in the process.

      If you’re a shareholder wondering about what happens to my shares if a company goes private, it’s essential to understand the implications and carefully evaluate the terms of the transaction, as well as any potential tax consequences.

      By doing so, shareholders can make informed decisions that align with their investment goals and priorities.

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