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Senate probes IPO fairness for small investors

The Nasdaq board in Times Square advertises Facebook which debuted on the Nasdaq stock market on May 18, 2012 in New York. The Senate Banking Committee is holding a hearing today into whether the IPO process is working for ordinary investors. At issue is whether regulators can level the playing field for big and small investors.

Jeff Horwich: On Capitol Hill senators get to let off a little steam today over the mucked-up Facebook IPO. The Senate Banking Committee has a hearing on whether the initial public-offering process is fair to average Joe and Jane investor.

From Washington, Marketplace's Scott Tong reports.


Scott Tong: Vivek Wadhwa at Stanford law says everyday investors lost out on the Facebook IPO. Long before public trading, only insiders could buy and sell shares on what’s called “secondary markets.”

And then, when the Nasdaq IPO came:

Vivek Wadhwa: All of the high-end investors knew that Facebook was overpriced. They knew that its stock would likely drop. The only people who didn’t know this were the public.

Only Facebook, its investment bank and preferred investors reportedly got information about company weakness. Some of these whispers are allowed, under a new law encouraging startups to go public. Wadwha wants Congress to undo that.

But finance professor Jim Angel at Georgetown says that exclusive, whispering IPO club actually lets in big mutual funds representing us.

James Angell: We want large investors, and the people who invest on behalf of you and me to have access to management.

Expect senators to look closely at the new, relaxed IPO rules.

In Washington I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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