What Does a Reverse Merger Mean for My Stocks?

If you own stock in a company that is about to engage in a reverse merger, you own what is referred to as shell stocks. Shell stocks have very little value, if any. These are referred to as shell stocks because the public company that issued the stock is no longer conducting business operations and is known as a shell company.

About Shell Companies

When a public company no longer conducts its regular business operations, has no real assets or has assets that are comprised of only cash and cash equivalents, it is considered what is known as a shell company. Real assets are assets that have value based on its utilization, such as a piece of machinery or a factory plant. This is the opposite of nominal assets such as cash and cash equivalents. Although shell companies do not conduct regular business activities, they maintain their stock trading status.

Reverse Merger

A reverse merger occurs when a privately held company wants to become a publicly traded company, but does not want to go through the lengthy and costly process of an initial public offering (IPO). In a reverse merger, the private company buys controlling interest in the shell company by purchasing a shell stock. After the merger, the private company and the shell combine to form one publicly traded company. The private company controls the post-merger company.

Decrease in Stock Value

Investors can decide to dump or sell off their shares after the reverse merger, if the shell company shareholders determine that the merger is not a financially sound decision. Reasons for doing so can be due to legal issues, or a history of financial malfeasance on the private company’s part, for example. This causes the stock price to decrease in value. If after the reverse merger, the private company has not yet received the financial backing or capital it needs to compete in its industry as a publicly traded company, investor demand for the stock typically is low. Low demand decreases the value of the stock.

Increase in Value

If a private company requires majority shareholders of a shell company to hold their shares for a certain period after the merge is complete, it prevents company stock from decreasing dramatically post merger. This can lead to an increase in investor demand, and an increase in stock value. If the private company has the financial backing to compete in its industry as a public company when the merger is complete, this can also increase its stock's value.