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What is UNDERWRITING? What does UNDERWRITING mean? UNDERWRITING meaning – UNDERWRITING pronunciation UNDERWRITING definition – UNDERWRITING explanation – How to pronounce UNDERWRITING?
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
Underwriting services are provided by some large specialist financial institutions, such as banks, insurance or investment houses, whereby they guarantee payment in case of damage or financial loss and accept the financial risk for liability arising from such guarantee. An underwriting arrangement may be created in a number of situations including insurance, issue of securities in primary markets, and in bank lending, among others.
The name derives from the Lloyd’s of London insurance market. Financial bankers, who would accept some of the risk on a given venture (historically a sea voyage with associated risks of shipwreck) in exchange for a premium, would literally write their names under the risk information that was written on a Lloyd’s slip created for this purpose.
Securities underwriting refers to the process by which investment banks raise investment capital from investors on behalf of corporations and governments that are issuing securities (both equity and debt capital). The services of an underwriter are typically used during a public offering in a primary market.
This is a way of distributing a newly issued security, such as stocks or bonds, to investors. A syndicate of banks (the lead managers) underwrites the transaction, which means they have taken on the risk of distributing the securities. Should they not be able to find enough investors, they will have to hold some securities themselves. Underwriters make their income from the price difference (the “underwriting spread”) between the price they pay the issuer and what they collect from investors or from broker-dealers who buy portions of the offering.
Once the underwriting agreement is struck, the underwriter bears the risk of being unable to sell the underlying securities, and the cost of holding them on its books until such time in the future that they may be favorably sold.
If the instrument is desirable, the underwriter and the securities issuer may choose to enter into an exclusivity agreement. In exchange for a higher price paid upfront to the issuer, or other favorable terms, the issuer may agree to make the underwriter the exclusive agent for the initial sale of the securities instrument. That is, even though third-party buyers might approach the issuer directly to buy, the issuer agrees to sell exclusively through the underwriter.
In summary, the securities issuer gets cash up front, access to the contacts and sales channels of the underwriter, and is insulated from the market risk of being unable to sell the securities at a good price. The underwriter gets a profit from the markup, plus possibly an exclusive sales agreement.
Also if the securities are priced significantly below market price (as is often the custom), the underwriter also curries favor with powerful end customers by granting them an immediate profit (see flipping), perhaps in a quid pro quo. This practice, which is typically justified as the reward for the underwriter for taking on the market risk, is occasionally criticized as unethical, such as the allegations that Frank Quattrone acted improperly in doling out hot IPO stock during the dot com bubble.
In banking, underwriting is the detailed credit analysis preceding the granting of a loan, based on credit information furnished by the borrower; such underwriting falls into several areas:
Consumer loan underwriting includes the verification of such items as employment history, salary and financial statements; publicly available information, such as the borrower’s credit history, which is detailed in a credit report; and the lender’s evaluation of the borrower’s credit needs and ability to pay. Examples include mortgage underwriting.