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Understanding Corporate Action: Definition and Types

understanding corporate action
understanding corporate action

Understanding corporate action is important for a investor. An Investors with a high level of awareness are aware that when a publicly traded company makes an announcement, the stock price is likely to be affected. Knowing how a decision may impact a company’s stock is important if you’re thinking about purchasing shares or are already a shareholder. Financial health and short-term prospects of a corporation can also be inferred from corporate behavior.

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Understanding Corporate Action and What It Is?

Any activity that materially alters an organization and has an effect on its stakeholders—common and preferred shareholders as well as bondholders—is considered a corporate action. The company’s board of directors typically approves these events; however, in some cases, shareholders may also have a vote. Shareholders may be required to respond to certain company acts.

How does it work?

Publicly traded corporations are usually managed by a board of directors, which is composed of people with close ties to the company and who are elected to fill different roles. All business decisions are approved by the directors, usually by a vote. The opportunity to vote on any or all corporate actions taken by the corporation is sometimes extended to its shareholders.
However, the people who are associated with a corporation are impacted by the acts of the company. The parties in question consist of:

  • Preferred and/or common shareholders
  • Stakeholders
  • Bondholders

What are the types of Corporate Actions?

The following are the three fundamental categories of corporate actions:

1. Mandatory

A company’s board of directors enacts mandatory corporate actions. Any necessary activity, like paying out a cash dividend, has an impact on every stakeholder in the company. The company’s governing body is in charge of it. All that is required of shareholders is to collect the cash dividend on their shares.
Apart from dividends, spin-offs, stock splits, and mergers are also considered obligatory activities. The term “mandatory” here refers to the requirement that shareholders comply with the action being done.

2. Mandatory (with several options)

Shareholders might choose from a variety of possibilities through mandatory corporate actions.  According to this kind of arrangement, the corporation offers dividends in the form of cash or equity shares, with the former being the default choice. The dividend payment method is up to the shareholder. If the shareholder does not submit a preference, the dividend will be paid in shares of the business stock, which is the default option.

3. Voluntary

Voluntary corporate activities are those in which stockholders choose to participate voluntarily. The shareholders’ response is required before the corporation proceeds with the corporate action.
A tender offer is a perfect illustration of voluntary activity. Shareholders may accept or reject the tender offer because it is voluntary. Every shareholder is required to provide an answer about their involvement. The proceeds from the sale will subsequently be distributed to any shareholder who elects to tender shares at the prearranged price.

Examples of corporate actions

Mandatory action

1. Stock split and reverse stock split                      

stock split

A business may choose to implement a reverse stock split or stock split. A stock split occurs when a company announces that the face value of its shares will be split. This method may result in a drop in the market price of the shares, while the market capitalization of the company stays constant. On the other hand, a reverse stock split produces the opposite outcome. When fewer shares are outstanding, share prices rise as a result.

2. Bonus issue

In return for the shares they already own, the company’s owners receive these free shares. Bonus shares are distributed using the reserves in shareholder money. Businesses make public the ratio at which newly issued shares are allocated to current shareholders. When bonus shares are awarded, more shares are issued, but the total value of the shares stays the same.

3. Merger and acquisition

When two or more businesses decide to combine in order to increase their operations and earnings, a merger takes place. In a similar vein, an acquisition happens when a larger corporation acquires or surpasses a smaller one.

4. Spin-offs

Corporate spin-offs occur when a business “spins off” or “separates” a portion of its business to form a parallel endeavor, usually for the purpose of growing or making new acquisitions.

Mandatory action with several options

Dividend payout

The majority of stable businesses distribute dividends to their shareholders, giving them a portion of their revenues. But the company is not required to do this. The business might decide to reinvest the earnings to fuel more expansion. Shareholders have the option to choose between cash and stock dividends when it is distributed. In the event that the shareholders fail to express their preference within the designated timeframe, cash dividends are applied as the default alternative.

Voluntary action

1. Buyback     

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A company that feels the price is too low or has extra cash that it can’t seem to spend can offer to buy back its shares from present investors. Because fewer shares are in circulation after a buyback, the EPS increases.

2. Rights issue 

A company accomplishes this by issuing fresh shares to each and every existing shareholder in line with their ownership position in the business. New shares are frequently offered at a discount to entice shareholders to submit an application for the offering. A stockholder can buy one share for every three shares he currently owns in the company, for instance, in a 3:1 rights issue.

The company’s stock price is impacted both favorably and unfavorably by each of these factors: dividends, stock splits, mergers, and acquisitions. That might lead to both a sudden price increase and, in certain cases, a drop. Corporate developments should be known to investors and how they may impact their shares

Corporate Action Processing and Timelines

The day the company releases its corporate activities is known as the announcement date. Regulatory filings and press announcements could be used for this.
Ex-Date: The day the securities begins trading without the opportunity to get updates on company actions is known as this.

Record Date: This information is used by the company to determine whether shareholders are eligible to receive corporate action.

Date of Payment: On this day, the company makes any corporate payments, such as paying dividends.
Investors can obtain this information from company websites, brokers, financial advisors, and regulatory filings.


Corporate actions are crucial to investing because they educate investors about major developments that could affect their securities. Investors should be aware of the corporate actions definition or corporate action meaning since they may affect the value of their investments and necessitate making choices about buying, selling, or holding shares. In a dynamic, ever-evolving world, companies use corporate actions to manage their capital structure, reward shareholders, and enhance their financial performance.

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