Firm commitment

Firm Commitment

An underwriting agreement is a contract between the corporation issuing new security and the underwriting group that has agreed to purchase and resell the issue for profit. An underwriting agreement is of two types firm commitment and best efforts. Generally, firm commitment means a promise that is given to fulfill any action within a specified period of time.

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In finance, it is in the context of the securities and the capital market where the underwriters or the initial purchaser commits to buying all of the securities offered by the company to sell it to the public thereafter. Whichever securities are not sold to the public are paid for and held by the underwriters or initial purchasers for their own account. It is the most desirable underwriting agreement because it guarantees the issuer his money right away. The underwriter puts his own money at risk in case if he is not able to sell the securities to the public. A firm commitment is also used in loans when a lender promises a borrower that the amount will be available for a loan when the borrower requires it. It is also used in accounting for derivatives as defined by the Financial Accounting Standard Board.

How does it work?

For any unsold inventory, the dealer who is the underwriter assumes responsibility. As the underwriter is taking risks he profits from the difference between the price of the purchase from the issuer and the price at which he sells it to the public which is the public offering price.

How is it different from best efforts?

  • In firm commitment, the investment bank enters into an agreement to make an outright purchase of the securities from the issuer in order to sell it to the public but in best efforts investment banks try to do their best to sell the issue to the public.
  • In firm commitment, the underwriter will take the unsold inventory which was not sold to the public but in best efforts, the underwriter will not.
  • A firm commitment is done for higher companies or where the investment bank has obtained information regarding the indication of interest which reflects that it will be able to resell all the shares purchased from the issuer but in best efforts deals in recent times are handles by firms that specialize in the more speculative securities of new and unseasoned companies.

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A firm commitment in an IPO is when an investment bank commits to underwriting an IPO. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley underwrote Facebook’s IPO. They made a firm commitment to short Facebook stocks to the public and at the same time, they shorted the shares and have made millions.

Bottom Line:

As the old saying goes “stock is sold not bought” it is very difficult to give a firm commitment for the entire security and hence investors prefer best efforts to firm commitment.

Author- Sanjana Rau

About the author- Started my journey of self even when the odds were against me, keen observation, a cool temper, and sports worked the best for me.


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