Understanding Secondary Offerings: A Comprehensive Guide for Companies and Shareholders

As a lawyer, I often get asked about secondary offerings and the process involved in conducting one. In this blog post, I will provide a detailed overview of what a secondary offering is, the documents and steps involved in the process, and the timing considerations that should be taken into account.

What is a Secondary Offering?

A secondary offering is the sale of additional shares of a company’s stock by existing shareholders, rather than by the company itself. This type of offering provides a way for existing shareholders to sell some or all of their shares in a company to the public or other investors. The proceeds from the sale of the shares go directly to the selling shareholders, rather than to the company.

Documents and Process Involved

The process of a secondary offering involves several steps and documents that need to be carefully considered and prepared. These steps include:

  1. Registration Statement

The selling shareholders must file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) prior to the offering. This statement contains information about the company, its financial statements, and the securities being offered. It is important to ensure that the information provided in the registration statement is accurate and complete, as any material misstatements or omissions could result in liability for the selling shareholders.

  1. Underwriting Agreement

The selling shareholders will typically work with an investment bank or other underwriter to facilitate the offering. The underwriting agreement sets out the terms of the offering, including the price, number of shares, and other conditions. It is important to ensure that the underwriting agreement is carefully drafted to reflect the terms of the offering and to protect the interests of the selling shareholders.

  1. Prospectus

The prospectus is a document that provides detailed information about the offering to potential investors. It includes information about the company, the shares being offered, and the risks associated with investing in the company. The prospectus must be carefully drafted to ensure that it is accurate and complete, and that it complies with applicable securities laws.

  1. Marketing and Pricing

The underwriter will work to market the offering to potential investors and determine the price at which the shares will be sold. It is important to ensure that the marketing materials and pricing are consistent with the terms of the offering and the disclosures made in the registration statement and prospectus.

  1. Closing

Once the offering is priced and marketed, the underwriter will purchase the shares from the selling shareholders and then resell them to investors. It is important to ensure that the closing process is properly documented and that all necessary approvals are obtained.

Timing Considerations

The timing of a secondary offering can vary depending on a number of factors, including market conditions and the regulatory approval process. The SEC typically reviews registration statements within 30 days of filing, but the process can take longer if the agency has questions or concerns. The underwriting process, marketing, and pricing can also take several weeks or even months to complete. In some cases, the company may need to obtain shareholder approval before the offering can proceed. Overall, the timing of a secondary offering can range from several weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the offering and the regulatory requirements involved.


A secondary offering can be a complex and time-consuming process that requires careful planning and preparation. As a lawyer, I strongly advise companies and selling shareholders to work with experienced professionals to ensure that all legal and regulatory requirements are properly addressed. This can help to minimize the risk of liability and ensure that the offering proceeds smoothly and efficiently.