Chen and Ritter (2000) documented that underwriter spreads for recent US initial public offerings (IPOs) in $20 million range as well as much larger IPOs in the $80 million range are clustered at 7%. This observation has led to a Department of Justice (DOJ) enquiry into potential price fixing by underwriters. We demonstrate through a times series analysis that IPOs have tripled in size and become much riskier over time. A pooled data analysis can therefore mask evidence of competition in the market. We find that spread clustering is not a recent phenomenon. Over time, clustering at 7% has increased as clustering above 7% has declined. IPO spreads have declined significantly over time as the firms going public more recently are riskier, underwriting efforts have increased and recent IPOs are much larger than IPOs in the past. Controlling for time trends, larger IPOs have lower average spreads. The market for underwriting IPOs seems to be competitive with entry of new firms during the hot markets.
Bajaj, M., Chen, A.H. and Mazumdar, S.C. (2008), "Competition in IPO underwriting: Time series evidence", Chen, A.H. (Ed.) Research in Finance (Research in Finance, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0196-3821(07)00201-8
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