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Underwriting Spread


Underwriting spread is a fee charged by underwriters for their services in a public offering or debt security issue. It represents the difference between the price paid to the issuer and the public offering price. This spread is essentially the underwriter’s profit for assuming the risk and performing other necessary administrative tasks.


The phonetics of the keyword “Underwriting Spread” is:ʌndərˌraitɪŋ ˈsprɛd

Key Takeaways

  1. Definition: The underwriting spread represents the difference between what the public pays for securities (such as stocks and bonds) in an offering and what the issuing company receives. It essentially functions as the compensation for the underwriter for the risk and work related to the selling process.
  2. Determining Factors: The size of the underwriting spread can depend on a variety of factors such as the type of offering, the size and complexity of the issuance, market volatility, and the overall level of risk associated with the issuing entity. The underwriters often assume a significant level of risk, and thus, the spread serves as their incentive and fair compensation.
  3. Role in the Market: The underwriting spread plays an important role in capital markets, facilitating the issuance of new securities. It aids in pricing and distributing risk effectively, allowing the markets to function smoothly. Investors, issuers, and underwriters all rely on the efficient operation of these spreads to ensure fairness and profitability in the market.


The term “Underwriting Spread” is significant in business and finance as it primarily represents the disparity between the amount paid by the investing public for securities (stocks, bonds, etc.) issued during an initial public offering (IPO) or any secondary market offerings and the amount received by the issuing company from that sale. Essentially, it’s the underwriter’s profit or compensation for the risks taken and job performed in relation to the issuance and sale process, including pre-offer preparation, marketing, pricing, regulatory compliance and allocation of securities. This spread, often presented as a percentage, enables stakeholders and market participants to evaluate the cost or efficiency of the underwriting service provided, influencing the financial decision-making process.


Underwriting spread serves a crucial purpose in the context of financial transactions, particularly during the issuance of new securities, like bonds or stocks. It represents the difference between the amount paid by the underwriter to the issuer of a new security and the price at which the underwriter sells that security to public investors. Essentially, it’s the compensation that an underwriter receives for assuming risks associated with buying new securities and selling them to the public. This spread encourages underwriters to carry out due diligence to ensure the securities are viable and profitable, mitigating the risk involved in the selling process.The funds generated from the underwriting spread also finance the marketing efforts used to sell the securities. For instance, underwriters often organize events, release advertisement campaigns, or distribute sales literature to attract potential investors to buy the new securities. The effort put into marketing strongly influences the success of the initial offering. Therefore, the underwriting spread serves to kickstart a securities launch and facilitate a smoother transition from issuer to investor, thereby playing a vital role in launching new securities in the financial market.


1. Initial Public Offering (IPO): When a company decides to go public, underwriters are often involved in the process to help price the shares and sell them to the public. The underwriting spread would be the difference between the price at which the underwriter bought the shares from the company and the price at which they sold them to the public. For example, if an underwriter buys 1 million shares at $15 each and sells them at $17 each, the underwriting spread would be $2 per share or $2 million total.2. Insurance Companies: Insurance underwriters evaluate the risk and exposures of potential clients. They decide how much coverage the client should receive and how much they should pay for it. The underwriting spread in this case is the difference between the premium that the insurance company charges the insured party and the amount that the insurance company would expect to pay out in claims.3. Bond Issue: When a corporation or government entity wants to raise funds, they might issue bonds. An underwriting firm will assist in this process, buying the bonds from the issuer and selling them on to investors. The difference between the price paid to the issuer and the price the bonds are sold for to investors is the underwriting spread. For instance, if a firm buys a bond issue from a corporation at 98% of its face value and then sells it to investors at 100% of face value, the underwriting spread would be 2%.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an Underwriting Spread?

Underwriting Spread is the difference between the amount paid by the investor for a new security issue and the amount the issuer receives from the sale, essentially, it’s the profit achieved by underwriters through the issuance process of new securities.

Who typically performs underwriting?

Underwriting is typically performed by investment banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions. They evaluate the risk of lending or insuring a particular client and decide the terms of the contract accordingly.

What factors determine the Underwriting Spread?

The Underwriting Spread may be influenced by various factors, including the type of security, market conditions, and the risk associated with the issuer. It is negotiated between the issuer and the underwriter.

How is the Underwriting Spread divided?

The underwriting spread is usually divided into three parts: the manager’s fee, the underwriting fee, and the selling concession. The manager’s fee is for arrangement and management of the issue, underwriting fee is for risk assumed and selling concession is for selling the securities.

Can an Underwriting Spread be considered as a Cost?

Yes, from the perspective of the issuer, the underwriting spread can be considered as a cost of raising capital.

How is the Underwriting Spread disclosed?

The Underwriting Spread is disclosed in the prospectus of the security which is part of the essential information that a potential investor should examine before investing.

How is the success of underwriting measured?

The success of underwriting is often measured by the underwriting spread, among other factors. A high spread usually indicates significant profits for the underwriters.

Is the Underwriting Spread the only source of income for underwriters?

No, while the underwriting spread is typically the main source of income for underwriters, they can also earn income from ancillary services, such as conducting due diligence, preparing the offering document and other related administrative services.

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