Allocation in IPO: Definition, Role, and Importance

In the context of an initial public offering (IPO), Allocation refers to the process of distributing shares among investors who have participated in the IPO.

In the world of initial public offerings (IPOs), the process of “Allocation” plays a crucial role in distributing shares to investors who participated in the IPO. After the final offering price is determined through book building and price discovery, the process of allocation ensures a fair and equitable distribution of shares among investors. In this article, we will explore the concept of Allocation in the context of an IPO, its significance, and how it influences investor participation.

Defining Allocation in an IPO:

Allocation is the process of distributing shares among investors who subscribed to the IPO during the book building or subscription period. Once the final offering price is determined, the shares are allocated based on the bids submitted by investors, ensuring a fair and proportionate distribution.

Methods of Allocation:

  1. Pro-Rata Basis: In a pro-rata allocation, shares are distributed proportionately to the number of shares each investor applied for. If an investor applied for 1% of the total shares offered, they would be allocated 1% of the shares.

  2. Discretionary Basis: In some cases, underwriters may have the discretion to allocate shares based on various factors, such as the investor’s relationship with the company or their long-term investment commitment.

Significance of Allocation in an IPO:

  1. Fair Distribution: Allocation ensures a fair distribution of shares among investors, preventing any undue advantages or biases.

  2. Encouraging Investor Participation: A transparent and equitable allocation process encourages more investors to participate in the IPO, enhancing overall demand.

  3. Building Investor Confidence: A well-executed allocation process builds investor confidence in the company and the IPO, attracting a broader range of potential investors.

  4. Stabilizing Stock Price: A balanced allocation can help stabilize the stock price post-listing by preventing excessive sell-offs.

Considerations for Allocation:

  1. Institutional Investors vs. Retail Investors: Companies may allocate a higher proportion of shares to institutional investors due to their long-term commitment and financial stability.

  2. Investor Preferences: Companies may consider the preferences of certain investors, such as long-term institutional investors or strategic partners.

Challenges in Allocation:

  1. Oversubscription: In an oversubscribed IPO where demand exceeds supply, allocation becomes challenging. Pro-rata allocation may not fulfill all investor bids fully.

  2. Pricing Sensitivity: The final offering price significantly impacts allocation decisions, as higher prices may deter some investors.


Allocation is a crucial process in an IPO that ensures a fair and equitable distribution of shares among investors. By promoting transparency and investor confidence, allocation enhances overall demand and facilitates a successful IPO. Companies and underwriters must carefully consider various factors when allocating shares to meet the expectations of investors and build a strong foundation for the company’s public market debut.