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CFO Playbook: To list, or not to list

Maintaining an exchange listing comes with direct listing fees and costs for legal, accounting, investor relations and compliance activities related to public company status. While relatively rare, some major companies have chosen to delist in recent years.

CFO Playbook: To list, or not to list

In an era where public listing is often seen as a pinnacle of corporate success, a growing trend of companies delisting from stock exchanges presents a paradox.

This phenomenon, although not new, has gained momentum in recent years, prompting a closer examination. De-listing refers to the process of removing a listed security from a stock exchange.

While de-listing can be voluntary or involuntary, it is often a deliberate choice made by companies to restructure their operations, optimize their capital structure, or explore alternative avenues for growth.

Reasons for Delisting

1. Simplifying Business Structure

One of the primary reasons companies opt for de-listing is to simplify their business structure. By removing themselves from the scrutiny and regulations associated with being a publicly-traded company, businesses can streamline their operations and focus on long-term objectives without the pressure of meeting quarterly expectations.

This move allows companies to have greater control over their decision-making process and reduces the administrative burden associated with compliance and reporting requirements.

2. Increased Flexibility and Privacy

De-listing provides companies with increased flexibility and privacy in their operations. Publicly-traded companies are subject to extensive disclosure requirements, which can limit their ability to keep certain aspects of their business confidential.

By going private, companies can protect sensitive information, such as trade secrets or competitive strategies, from their competitors. This enhanced privacy also allows companies to make strategic decisions without the immediate scrutiny of the market, enabling them to focus on long-term value creation.

3. Cost Reduction

Maintaining a listing on a stock exchange involves significant costs, including listing fees, regulatory compliance costs, and ongoing reporting expenses. For companies facing financial challenges or seeking to optimize their cost structure, de-listing can be an attractive option.

By eliminating these expenses, companies can allocate resources more efficiently towards their core business activities, research and development, or expansion plans.

4. Strategic Repositioning

De-listing can be a strategic move for companies looking to reposition themselves in the market or explore alternative growth opportunities. By going private, companies can undertake significant restructuring, mergers, or acquisitions without the immediate impact on their stock price.

This strategic freedom allows companies to pursue long-term value creation strategies that may not align with short-term market expectations.

Delisting Process

1. Board Approval and Shareholder Consent

Before initiating the de-listing process, companies must obtain board approval and, in most cases, seek consent from their shareholders.

Board approval ensures that the decision to de-list aligns with the company’s overall strategic objectives and is in the best interest of its stakeholders.

Shareholder consent is typically obtained through a vote at a general meeting, where a specific majority is required to proceed with the de-listing.

2. Regulatory Compliance

De-listing from a stock exchange involves complying with various regulatory requirements. Companies must ensure that they meet the necessary legal and regulatory obligations, including providing adequate notice to regulators, informing shareholders about the de-listing proposal, and addressing any concerns raised during the process.

Compliance with these requirements ensures transparency and fairness in the de-listing process.

3. Notification to Stock Exchange

Once all regulatory requirements are fulfilled, the company must formally notify the stock exchange of its intention to de-list. This notification triggers a series of events, including the delisting application, review, and approval process by the stock exchange.

The stock exchange evaluates the company’s compliance history, financial stability, and other factors to assess the eligibility for de-listing.

What happens to shares?

Upon de-listing, the shares of the company will no longer be traded on the stock exchange. Shareholders have several options regarding their shares, depending on the specific circumstances and regulations governing the de-listing.

These options may include selling their shares through alternative trading platforms, tendering their shares to the company, or converting their shares into shares of the company’s parent entity, if applicable.

Implications and Considerations

De-listing can have a significant impact on shareholder value and liquidity. While some shareholders may benefit from a premium offered during the de-listing process, others may experience a decrease in the marketability and liquidity of their shares.

It is crucial for companies to communicate the rationale behind the de-listing and provide fair options for shareholders to exit their positions or convert their shares into an alternative form of investment.

As publicly-traded companies are subject to stringent corporate governance and disclosure requirements, de-listing raises questions about governance and transparency.

Companies opting for de-listing should establish robust governance practices and maintain transparency with their stakeholders, even though they are no longer bound by the same regulatory obligations. Demonstrating a commitment to ethical practices and effective communication can help maintain trust and confidence among investors and other stakeholders.

De-listing may impact a company’s ability to access capital through traditional avenues such as equity offerings. Without the public market platform, companies may need to explore alternative sources of funding, such as private equity, venture capital, or debt financing.

It is essential for companies to evaluate their capital requirements and establish alternative financing strategies before de-listing to ensure continued access to the necessary funds for growth and expansion.

Being listed on a stock exchange often enhances a company’s brand image and reputation. De-listing may require companies to reposition their corporate branding and develop strategies to maintain and enhance their reputation in the absence of a public market presence.

This can include targeted marketing and communication efforts to ensure stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, and employees, understand the company’s vision, values, and long-term commitment.

What to do after?

After de-listing, companies must navigate the post-de-listing landscape effectively to achieve their strategic objectives. This includes implementing the necessary corporate governance structures, maintaining transparency with shareholders, and exploring alternative avenues for value creation.

Companies may also consider periodic evaluations of their decision to de-list and assess the impact on their stakeholders and long-term growth prospects.


  1. Can a de-listed company re-list on a stock exchange? Yes, a de-listed company can potentially re-list on a stock exchange if it meets the listing requirements and complies with the necessary regulatory obligations. However, the decision to re-list depends on various factors, including the company’s strategic objectives, financial stability, and market conditions.

  2. Are there any legal implications for de-listing? De-listing involves complying with legal and regulatory requirements, and failure to do so can result in legal consequences. It is crucial for companies to seek legal advice and ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations throughout the de-listing process.

  3. What happens to the company’s financial reporting obligations after de-listing? After de-listing, companies may have reduced financial reporting requirements compared to publicly-traded companies. However, they are still subject to certain reporting obligations, depending on the jurisdiction and applicable regulations. It is essential for companies to understand and fulfill these obligations to maintain transparency and credibility with stakeholders.

  4. How does de-listing affect employee stock options and incentives? De-listing may impact employee stock options and incentives, depending on the terms and conditions of the specific programs. Companies should communicate any changes or implications regarding employee stock options and incentives to ensure transparency and minimize potential negative impacts on employee morale and retention.


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