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What is the Grey Market in an IPO
27 Jul 2023

In the most straightforward words, a grey market is a market that operates in parallel to an official market. In terms of the stock market, it refers to a market where trading occurs outside official channels. Concerning stocks and any IPO in the grey market, the markets that sell these to investors are not officially governed by SEBI. However, in any market where things are bought and sold, you can find a grey market that runs in tandem with official avenues, so why not with stocks or an IPO? 

What is an IPO in the grey market

Since stocks have a grey market (an unofficial market) in which they can be traded, an IPO can also be subscribed to in a grey market. Therefore, when an IPO is offered in a grey market, it is done so before the stock of the company in question is officially offered for subscription through an IPO to the general public. When you open a Demat account to invest in the stock of any company initially, you may not know about this grey market, but it does exist. Grey markets are operated by a set of individuals and are largely unregulated; the Securities and Exchange Board (SEBI) regulations are inapplicable to these. 

The Grey Market and the Premium

If you delve deeper into the grey market and related IPO issues, you may come across the grey market premium, a term that may baffle you. So, what is the grey market premium in an IPO? This certainly has nothing to do with an official upcoming IPO offered to the general public for the purpose of listing a company. The “grey market premium”, plainly put, is the price of stock that is traded in the grey stock market. This can be illustrated with the example below: 

Assume that the issue price of stock “A” is Rs. 200.

The “grey market premium” may be Rs. 400. This translates to the fact that people who wish to buy the stock will effectively pay the official price, Rs. 200 plus the grey market premium, Rs. 400 for the stock, paying Rs. 600 in total. A deal for a stock in the grey market is made this way. 

Why the Grey Market Works for IPO Stock

For stocks of any upcoming IPO 2023 in the grey market, investors are willing to pay the premium if they want to own the stock badly enough. In a typical official IPO, investors are offered the stock but may not be allotted shares in the amounts they want. In the grey market, they pay more but get the stock they want in the numbers they wish for. The grey market stocks are “guaranteed” to those investors willing to pay a premium for them. Dealers who operate in the grey market are those who have connections with investors who have been allotted shares through the IPO. So, if Mr. X has got enough of a share allotment, say 1000 shares of a particular stock, and Mr. Z has not, through a dealer, Mr. Z can get the number of shares he wants as Mr. X will sell them to a dealer with a premium attached. The dealer will then sell to Mr. Z.  The dealer makes a percentage that is covered by the premium. In this way, all parties are satisfied. 

Go the Legal Route

The grey market functions externally from the realm of official channels. However, experts recommend the official route to invest. If you wish to open a Demat account and invest in stocks, there is a grey market for these too. One thing a grey market serves the purpose of is that it may be a predictor of the future performance of stocks in any upcoming IPO. Premiums may be higher if the stock is touted to be positive in the future. 


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