To IPO or Not To IPO: Risks, Uncertainty and the Decision to Go Public

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Abstract

We employ three views of agency theory in unison to investigate managerial risk-taking in uncertain markets. Using 124 firms that filed to go public toward the end of the technology boom (2000–2002), we explore the influence of CEO ownership on the decision to continue or withdraw an initial public offering (IPO) in deteriorating public equity markets. We find an inverse U-shaped relationship between CEOs' equity participation and the decision to proceed with a public offering: the probability of IPO cancellation in weak capital markets increases as CEOs hold too little or too much ownership. Our results also indicate that a firm's debt levels are positively linked with the IPO decision. CEO ownership and leverage intensity interact to influence the decision to take a firm public.

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