Entrepreneurial Equity Financing and Securities Regulation: An Empirical Analysis

To protect investors, securities regulation generally restrains entrepreneurial ventures from entering the stock market. Scholars and regulators contend that strong rules and requirements for listing are essential to prevent the market from failing. However, these constraints can also unduly impede the growth of new ventures. We use the Canadian case to examine the effects of the relaxation of the regulatory constraints. Unlike in other countries, firms in Canada can list at a very early stage, without revenues, with a minimal size and even without writing a prospectus using the reverse merger technique. This provides a unique opportunity to examine entrepreneurial ventures listed on a public market. The quality of firms, their post-listing operating performance and strategy, and their fate largely support the opinion that strong listing requirements are essential to prevent the emergence of a lemon market. Investors involved in this market obtain very poor returns. This indicates that they are neither able to set correct prices in this market nor to deal with the high level of information asymmetry therein. The reluctance of most regulators to relax the requirements for small business finance can therefore be justified.
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