Initial public offering (IPO)

An initial public offering (IPO) is the process of launching a firm on to the stock exchange for the first time by inviting the general public and financial institutions to subscribe for shares – effectively selling them part of the firm. IPOs are also referred to as ‘flotations’ and the process as ‘floating’ or ‘going public’.

IPOs generally involve young firms trying to raise capital to expand or realise returns on their founder’s investments, but well-established firms also float. Firms that are loath to float – as it involves giving up some autonomy and sharing sensitive information with the market – tend to use the debt market (bonds) for finance instead.

Watch Tim Bennett’s video tutorial: A lesson from Facebook – avoid IPOs.

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Which investment platform?

When it comes to buying shares and funds, there are several investment platforms and brokers to choose from. They all offer various fee structures to suit individual investing habits.
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26 March 1885: The Cremation Society performs Britain's first legal cremation

On this day in 1885, poet Janet Pickersgill became the first person to be officially cremated in Britain, at Woking Crematorium in Surrey.