Prevention Is Better than Cure: The Role of IPO Syndicates in Precluding Information Acquisition
We treat information acquisition by potential investors in initial public offerings as endogenous. With endogenous information, the critical question is why underwriters would allow investors to spend resources acquiring superior information intended solely to effect a wealth transfer. We show that an investment banking syndicate is an institutional arrangement designed to avoid such a transfer. By inviting rival banks to share in the offering, a managing underwriter ensures they have a strong incentive to remain ignorant. We characterize the resulting outcome as one of symmetric ignorance. The desire to maintain symmetric ignorance is consistent with the observed passivity of nonmanaging syndicate participants.
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