In a primary market, securities are created for the first time for investors to purchase. New securities are issued in this market through a stock exchange, enabling the government as well as companies to raise capital.

For a transaction taking place in this market, there are three entities involved. It would include a company, investors, and an underwriter. A company issues security in a primary market as an initial public offering (IPO), and the sale price of such new issue is determined by a concerned underwriter, which may or may not be a financial institution. An underwriter also facilitates and monitors the new issue offering. Investors purchase the newly issued securities in the primary market. Such a market is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

The entity which issues securities may be looking to expand its operations, fund other business targets or increase its physical presence among others. Primary market example of securities issued includes notes, bills, government bonds or corporate bonds as well as stocks of companies.

Functions of Primary Market

The functions of such a market are manifold –

  • New issue offer

The primary market organises offer of a new issue which had not been traded on any other exchange earlier. Due to this reason, it is also called a New Issue Market. Organising new issue offers involves a detailed assessment of project viability, among other factors. The financial arrangements for the purpose include considerations of promoters’ equity, liquidity ratio, debt-equity ratio and requirement of foreign exchange.

  • Underwriting services

Underwriting is an essential aspect while offering a new issue. An underwriter’s role in a primary marketplace includes purchasing unsold shares if it cannot manage to sell the required number of shares to the public. A financial institution may act as an underwriter, earning a commission on underwriting.

Investors rely on underwriters for determining whether undertaking the risk would be worth its returns. It may so thus happen that an underwriter ends up buying all the IPO issue, and subsequently selling it to investors.

  • Distribution of new issue

A new issue is also distributed in a primary marketing sphere. Such distribution is initiated with a new prospectus issue. It invites the public at large to buy a new issue and provides detailed information on the company, issue, and involved underwriters.

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Types of Primary Market Issuance

After the issuance of securities, investors can purchase such securities in various ways. There are 5 types of primary market issues.

  • Public issue

Public issue is the most common method of issuing securities of a company to the public at large. It is mainly done via Initial Public Offering (IPO) resulting in companies raising funds from the capital market. These securities are listed in the stock exchanges for trading.

A privately held company converts into a publicly-traded company when its shares are offered to the public initially through IPO. Such public offer allows a company to raise funds for expansion of business, improving infrastructure, and repay its debts, among others. Trading in an open market also increases a company’s liquidity and provides a scope for issuance of more shares in raising further capital for business.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India is the regulatory body that monitors IPO. As per its guidelines, a requisite due enquiry is conducted for a company’s authenticity, and the company is required to mention its necessary details in the prospectus for a public issue.

  • Private placement

When a company offers its securities to a small group of investors, it is called private placement. Such securities may be bonds, stocks or other securities, and the investors can be both individual and institutional.

Private placements are easier to issue than initial public offerings as the regulatory stipulations are significantly less. It also incurs reduced cost and time, and the company can remain private. Such issuance is suitable for start-ups or companies which are in their early stages. The company may place this issuance to an investment bank or a hedge fund or place before ultra-high net worth individuals (HNIs) to raise capital.

  • Preferential issue

A preferential issue is one of the quickest methods available to companies for raising capital. Both listed and unlisted companies can issue shares or convertible securities to a select group of investors. However, the preferential issue is neither a public issue nor a rights issue. The shareholders in possession of preference shares stand to receive the dividend before the ordinary shareholders are paid.

  • Qualified institutional placement

Qualified institutional placement is another kind of private placement where a listed company issues securities in the form of equity shares or partly or wholly convertible debentures apart from such warrants convertible to equity shares and purchased by a Qualified Institutional Buyer (QIB).

QIBs are primarily such investors who have the requisite financial knowledge and expertise to invest in the capital market. Some QIBs are –

  • Foreign Institutional Investors registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India.
  • Foreign Venture Capital Investors.
  • Alternate Investment Funds.
  • Mutual Funds.
  • Public Financial Institutions.
  • Insurers.
  • Scheduled Commercial Banks.
  • Pension Funds.

Issuance of qualified institutional placement is simpler than preferential allotment as the former does not attract standard procedural regulations like submitting pre-issue filings to SEBI. The process thus becomes much easier and less time-consuming.

  • Rights and bonus issues

Another issuance in the primary market is rights and bonus issue, in which the company issues securities to existing investors by offering them to purchase more securities at a predetermined price (in case of rights issue) or avail allotment of additional free shares (in case of bonus issue).

For rights issues, investors retain the choice of buying stocks at discounted prices within a stipulated period. Rights issue enhances control of existing shareholders of the company, and also there are no costs involved in the issuance of these kinds of shares. For bonus issues, stocks are issued by a company as a gift to its existing shareholders. However, the issuance of bonus shares does not infuse fresh capital.

Examples of Primary Stock Market Selling

Company Details
Facebook One of the remarkable IPOs that were undertaken includes the Facebook initial public offering. The offer initiated in 2012 is to date the largest IPO in the technology sector. The company successfully raised $16 billion through its initial public offering. As an effect, its turnover increased by close to 100%.

Also, there was a high demand for the stock in the primary market, which led to the pricing of Facebook’s stock to be fixed at $38 for each share as determined by the underwriters. The valuation of the stock eventually amounted to $104 billion, highest for a newly formed public company.

Coal India The biggest IPO undertaken in India was by Coal India in 2010, which raised Rs. 15,200 Crore. The shares were listed at Rs. 287.75 and eventually increased to Rs.340. The company offered a 5% discount on the final IPO price to retail investors, along with the subsidiaries and employees of the company.

Furthermore, the Union Budget 2020-2021 also proposed the sale of a part of the government’s stake in Life Insurance Corporation. Even a 10% stake sale may fetch Rs. 80,000 crore to the government. Listing of the insurer will thus make it the biggest initial public offer in India surpassing Coal India IPO.

Advantages of Primary Market 

  • Companies can raise capital at relatively low cost, and the securities so issued in the primary market provide high liquidity as the same can be sold in the secondary market almost immediately.
  • The primary market is an important source for mobilisation of savings in an economy. Funds are mobilised from commoners for investing in other channels. It leads to monetary resources being put into investment options.
  • Chances of price manipulation in the primary market are considerably less when compared to the secondary market. Such manipulation usually occurs by deflating or inflating a security price, thereby deliberately interfering with fair and free operations of the market.
  • The primary market acts as a potential avenue for diversification to cut down on risk. It enables an investor to allocate his/her investment across different categories involving multiple financial instruments and industries.
  • It is not subject to any market fluctuations. The prices of stocks are determined before an initial public offering, and investors know the actual amount they will have to invest.

Disadvantages of Primary Market

  • There may be limited information for an investor to access before investment in an IPO since unlisted companies do not fall under the purview of regulatory and disclosure requirements of the Securities and Exchange Board of India.
  • Each stock is exposed to varying degrees of risk, but there is no historical trading data in a primary market for analysing IPO shares because the company is offering its shares to the public for the first time through an initial public offering.
  • In some cases, it may not be favourable for small investors. If a share is oversubscribed, small investors may not receive share allocation.

With this information regarding the primary market, individuals can make a well-thought-out decision regarding investment in the market. It also makes way for the creation of an investment portfolio with diversified risk.