What Are Anchor Investors & What’s Their Role In An IPO?

Anchor Investors

In the world of stock market debuts i.e., IPOs, anchor investors are like behind-the-scenes influencers shaping the game before it even starts. Think of them as savvy buyers – usually big institutions – snagging a bunch of shares at a fixed price, kind of like snagging a good deal before the big sale day.

Anchor Investors


But why does this matter? 

Well, it turns out, these anchor folks do more than just shop early. They bring stability, set the tone for others, and make the whole stock debut thing smoother. 

So, let’s dig into who these anchor investors are and what tricks they’ve got up their sleeves in the IPO show.

(A) Anchor Investors: Definition & Concept

First of all, let’s begin with the definition-

“Anchor investors are institutional buyers, such as banks or mutual funds, which purchase a significant number of shares in a company before its Initial Public Offering (IPO). This pre-IPO investment is aimed at boosting confidence, attracting other investors, and establishing stability in the stock’s debut.”

Sounds like a textbook? Let me explain with the help of an example.

Imagine a big music concert – the IPO. Before the show opens to the public, there’s a special backstage pass available to a select few, and these VIPs are the anchor investors. They’re like the early birds who secure prime seats, or in this case, shares in the company about to go public.

Sorry for the interruption! If you want to know the whole concept of IPO in detail then visit our well-explained article on “Initial Public Offering (IPO)”. Please continue…

For instance, when Paytm was getting ready to take the stage with its IPO, anchor investors entered the stage. It included huge entities like mutual funds and insurance companies. The anchor investors snagged a significant chunk of shares at a fixed price before the big public sale.

It’s like getting a sneak peek at the concert before everyone else.

But this episode wasn’t that glorious as it was meant to be.

Just like any show, sometimes things don’t go as planned. When Paytm’s IPO didn’t meet the audience’s expectations, the anchor investors found themselves facing losses. Despite their backstage access, the stock’s performance took an unexpected turn, leaving these VIPs with a different tune than they had anticipated.

So, anchor investors are a bit like the early supporters of a rising star, hoping their investment sets the stage for success, but as with any performance, there’s an element of unpredictability in the market’s response.

(B) Prominent Examples of Anchor Investors

IPO/CompanyYearAnchor Investors
Paytm IPO 2021BlackRock,
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Sovereign Wealth funds,
and other institutional investors.   
Reliance Industries Rights Issue2020Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and various institutional investors.
Airbnb IPO2020Silver Lake, Sixth Street Partners, and other institutional investors.
Alibaba IPO2014Major sovereign wealth funds and institutional investors globally.
Tesla Secondary Offering2020Baillie Gifford and other institutional investors
Saudi Aramco IPO2019Saudi government funds, sovereign wealth funds, and institutional investors globally.
Snowflake IPO2020Berkshire Hathaway, Salesforce Ventures, and other institutional investors.  
Prominent Examples of Anchor Investors

(C) Who can become an Anchor Investor?

See, as you have read above, an anchor investor is typically a qualified institutional buyer (QIB). Here the interesting fact is- that these can include a variety of institutions such as banks, mutual funds, pension funds, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), and other credible financial entities.

The role of an anchor investor is to purchase a significant portion of a company’s shares before its Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Now, let’s break down who can join the exclusive club of anchor investors. It’s like a financial VIP party, and to get an invite, you need to be a big player like-

  • Banks
  • Mutual Funds
  • Pension Funds
  • FPIs (Foreign Portfolio Investors)

Look, these are the folks who handle big money, not just a casual stroll through the financial district.

Here are the backstage facts-

  1. Qualified Institutional Buyers (QIBs): Anchor investors are often a subset of QIBs. These can be institutions like commercial banks, mutual fund houses, pension fund providers, and foreign investors who play in the big leagues of bulk securities.
  2. Minimum Investment Requirements: To snag a spot in the anchor investor crew, you need some serious financial muscle. Typically, an anchor investor is expected to make a minimum investment, and in India, that’s often set at ₹10 crores.
  3. Allocation Percentage: The anchor investor is no silent spectator; they get a slice of the action. SEBI allows companies to allocate up to 60% of the total IPO offering to QIBs, and this includes the anchor investors.
  4. Restrictions on Selling: Once you’re in, there’s a catch – you can’t just hit and run. Anchor investors usually face a lock-in period. In simpler terms, they can’t sell their shares for a certain period after getting them.

So, to sum it up, being an anchor investor is like having a backstage pass to the IPO show, but only if you’re a heavyweight in the financial game.

(D) Role of Anchor Investors in an IPO

Now, you must be wondering what the roles of Anchor Investors are in an IPO! The roles of anchor investors in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) are multifaceted, playing a crucial part in shaping the IPO process. They offer numerous benefits to the company going for Initial Public Offering.

Go through the following table and you will find out-

Role of Anchor Investors in IPOObjectiveReason
Building ConfidenceAnchor investors purchase a significant number of shares before the IPO.This early commitment creates a positive signal, building confidence among potential investors, both institutional and retail.
Stabilizing Price DiscoveryAnchor investors place substantial bidsThis helps in the process of price discovery, indicating the interest and confidence of institutional investors in the IPO.
Boosting Investor ConfidenceTheir participation signals confidence in IPOThis boost encourages other investors, especially retail ones, to participate, contributing to a more successful subscription.
Providing StabilityAnchor investors agree to hold their shares for a minimum period (lock-in).This commitment stabilizes the stock price by mitigating potential selling pressure from retail investors after the IPO listing.
Influencing Subscription LevelsTheir involvement attracts higher subscriptionRetail investors and High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs) are more likely to participate when anchor investors are on board, leading to increased demand.
Setting Price BenchmarksThe price at which anchor investors purchase sets a benchmark.This influences the IPO’s overall valuation and can impact subsequent market perception.
Promoting CredibilityAnchor Investors are often reputable institutionsTheir participation adds credibility to the IPO, making it more attractive to a broader investor base.
Meeting SEBI GuidelinesCompliance with SEBI rules and regulations.Following SEBI guidelines ensures transparency and fairness in the IPO process, enhancing investor trust.
Risk MitigationRestrictions on selling during the lock-in periodThis mitigates the risk of sudden share sell-offs by anchor investors, preventing excessive volatility immediately post-listing
Role of Anchor Investors in an IPO

In summary, anchor investors serve as foundational pillars, instilling confidence, influencing pricing dynamics, and contributing significantly to the success of an IPO.

(E) Do Anchor Investors take part in FPO?

Yes, anchor investors do take part in Follow-on Public Offers (FPOs). For example, Adani Enterprises Ltd raised Rs 5,985 crore from anchor investors ahead of their FPO, and Adani Enterprises has raised Rs 5,985 crore by allotting shares to anchor investors before their FPO.

Additionally, the anchor investor book for Adani Enterprises’ FPO was oversubscribed, with investors bidding for shares worth ₹9,000 crore, compared to the ₹6,000 crore quota. This demonstrates strong interest and participation from anchor investors in FPOs. 

(F) What is the benefit of Anchor Investors?

Anchor investors enjoy several benefits that make their participation in an IPO advantageous-

Benefits enjoyed by Anchor InvestorsDescription
Early Access to Promising OpportunitiesThey get a sneak peek into a company’s IPO before it hits the public market.
This early access allows them to secure shares at a fixed price before the general public.
Favorable Terms & PricingSince anchor investors commit to purchasing a significant portion of shares, they often receive favorable terms and pricing. This can include discounts or fixed prices that may offer a potential for early gains.
Setting a BenchmarkThe price at which anchor investors buy shares sets a benchmark for the IPO.
This can influence the overall valuation of the company and impact subsequent trading activities.
Potential for Higher ReturnsIf the IPO performs well post-listing, anchor investors stand to gain from potential capital appreciation.
Their early investment positions them favorably if the stock price rises.
Enhanced CredibilityBeing anchor investors in a successful IPO enhances their credibility.
It showcases their ability to identify and invest in promising opportunities, contributing to their reputation in the financial market.
What is the benefit of Anchor Investors?

Some other benefits received by Anchor Investors are-

Other BenefitsDetails
Increased Exposure & VisibilityAnchor investors often include prominent institutional names.
Their association with an IPO provides them increased exposure and visibility, showcasing their confidence in the company.
Strategic Investment DecisionsAnchor investors are typically institutions with a thorough research and due diligence process.
Their participation signals a strategic investment decision based on their assessment of the company’s growth potential.
Potential for Future CollaborationEstablishing a relationship with a company through anchor investments may open doors for potential future collaborations or business relationships, providing strategic advantages beyond the IPO.
Role in Price DiscoveryAnchor investors play a role in the price discovery process by placing substantial bids.
Their actions contribute to establishing a stable and realistic IPO price.
Meeting Regulatory GuidelinesAnchor investors often adhere to regulatory guidelines set by bodies like SEBI.
Compliance with these guidelines ensures transparency and fair practices in the IPO process.
Some other benefits received by Anchor Investors

While anchor investors bring significant advantages to the IPO process, it’s essential to note that their participation also comes with responsibilities, such as lock-in periods and adherence to regulatory norms.

(G) Difference between Anchor Investor and Seed Investor

The table given below describes the comparison between Anchor Investors and Seed Investors

AspectAnchor InvestorSeed Investor
Investment StageTypically involved in IPOs or pre-IPOs.Invests in the earliest stages of a startup.
Investment PurposeAims to provide stability, confidence, and attract other investors in the public offering.Provides initial funding to startups for product development, market research, etc.
Type of InvestmentsInvests in a significant portion of shares in established companies going public.Invests in equity or convertible securities of early-stage startups.
Timing of InvestmentParticipates just before or during an IPO.Invests during the seed stage, often when the startup is in its infancy.
Investment SizeInvolves substantial amounts, e.g., minimum of ₹10 crores in the case of Indian IPOs.Generally involves smaller amounts compared to anchor investments.
Role in PricingPlays a role in price discovery for the IPO, influencing the valuation.Establishes the initial valuation of a startup and influences subsequent funding rounds.
Lock-in PeriodTypically subject to a lock-in period after the IPO, restricting share selling for a specific duration.May not have a lock-in period, but exit strategies are often negotiated.
Investor TypeInstitutional investors like mutual funds, banks, or foreign portfolio investors.Individual or institutional investors providing initial funding to startups.
Risk and Return ProfileModerate to lower risk, with potential for returns based on IPO performance.Higher risk due to the early-stage nature of startups, with potential for significant returns if the startup succeeds.
Influence on Market PerceptionCan influence market perception and confidence in the IPO.Influences early-stage startup credibility and may attract subsequent investors.
Regulatory FrameworkGoverned by regulatory bodies like SEBI (in the case of Indian markets).Subject to relevant securities regulations but often less stringent compared to public offerings.
Focus on Company StageFocuses on established companies entering the public market.Focuses on startups in their formative stages, providing crucial initial capital.
Difference between Anchor Investor and Seed Investor

However, you must note that while both serve as key players in their respective investment landscapes, their roles, objectives, and risk profiles differ significantly.

(H) Challenges Faced by Anchor Investors

Market VolatilityFluctuations in the market can impact the value of shares, affecting the returns for anchor investors.
Price RiskThe risk associated with changes in the price of shares, impacting the potential gains or losses for anchor investors.
Liquidity ConstraintsLock-in periods may restrict the ability to sell shares immediately, limiting liquidity and flexibility for anchor investors.
Over-Reliance on IPO SuccessAnchor investors’ returns are often tied to the performance of the IPO. If the IPO underperforms, it can pose challenges for investors.
Market Sentiment InfluenceAnchor investors can influence market sentiment, but they are also susceptible to broader market perceptions, affecting their investment outcomes.
Regulatory ComplianceAdhering to regulatory guidelines, such as lock-in periods and other SEBI regulations, requires strict compliance, adding complexity to investment decisions.
Allocation LimitsRestrictions on the maximum number of anchor investors and the capital allocation in an IPO can limit participation in certain cases.
Investor ConfidenceMaintaining investor confidence is crucial; any negative developments or market reactions can impact the reputation and credibility of anchor investors
Post-Lock-In Selling PressureOnce the lock-in period expires, anchor investors may face selling pressure, impacting the stock’s short-term performance and potentially their returns.
Market Perception SensitivityThe market’s reaction to anchor investor participation can influence subsequent investor decisions, making market perception a critical factor.
Challenges faced by Anchor Investors

Navigating these challenges requires strategic decision-making, risk management, and a thorough understanding of market dynamics for anchor investors participating in IPOs.

(I) Wrapping Up

And there you have it! anchor investors play a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), providing stability, confidence, and influencing price discovery. Their strategic participation not only attracts retail investors but also serves as a barometer of market credibility.

Their commitment boosts everyone’s confidence, especially the regular folks like you and me, making us feel that the IPO is a cool, credible event. Sure, they face challenges, but these heroes navigate through, making IPOs a success. 

So, next time you hear about an IPO, know that the anchors have set sail!

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Published By: Supti Nandi
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