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IPO Underpricing, Wealth Losses and the Curious Role of Venture Capitalists in the Creation of Public Companies

Alexander Ljungqvist

Abstract

Lower underpricing amongst venture-backed IPOs has been attributed to a certification role for venture capitalists. We argue that differences in underpricing per se are uninformative and possibly misleading when not controlling for differences in entrepreneursí incentives to control underpricing. Using 1980s and 1990s data, we show that entrepreneursí wealth losses, a more suitable measure than underpricing, are unaffected by the presence of venture backers. Thus, we find no evidence of venture certification as far as IPO pricing is concerned. We also find possible evidence of a conflict of interest between venture backers and entrepreneurs which could explain why more prestigious underwriters in the 1990s are associated with higher underpricing.

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