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The Era of Cloak & Dagger IPOs is Upon Us

July 11, 2012

A legendary English football club.  An online legal research provider.  A chain of “natural foods” grocery stores.  Three biopharmaceutical companies.  A producer of sand for the fracking industry.

What do these companies have in common?  They’ve all taken advantage of a new rule under the JOBS Act allowing qualifying filers to submit their IPO paperwork under the cloak of confidentiality.  And they’re the first seven such filers to have stepped in to the light of day, making their initially public offering truly public.  (There is, after all, something oxymoronic about a confidential initial public offering.)

The companies are Manchester United Ltd., LegalZoom.Com Inc., Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Inc., Tesaro, Inc., Kythera Biopharmaceuticals Inc., GlobeImmune Inc., and (earlier this week) Hi-Crush Partners LP.   Only Tesaro, which focuses on treatments for cancer patients, has completed its IPO – making it the first confidential filer under the JOBS Act to actually go public.  (File that one away for trivia night.)

Identifying these filers is easy using the Knowledge Mosaic SEC Filings page.  But it’s anyone’s guess what other companies out there have secretly filed the paperwork to go public.  If a company tests the water and doesn’t like the temperature, it has the right to abort the IPO process without anyone ever knowing it happened.

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