A CEO explains some of the ways she had to change communicating with her private-equity owners after an IPO.
Robin Prever, CEO of $3.6-million Saratoga Beverage Group, has successfully completed two rounds of financing since she started her springwater company in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., two years ago. She used a private placement to sell about one-third of the company's equity to 11 investors and then tapped an initial public offering to parcel out another third to 1,500 stockholders.
But it's not easy to juggle the demands of both types of investors; private equity owners, for example, are used to getting the inside scoop. Prever offers this advice:
· Make public shareholders your first priority. Although that may seem disloyal to initial supporters, it's your only choice, Prever says.
"Some of my earlier investors will still call me up and ask for what amounts to advance information. But the Securities and Exchange Commission requires you to communicate to everyone at the same time in the same way."
· Don't make predictions. "You don't want the SEC accusing you of trying to manipulate your stock. Once the IPO happened, I stopped telling investors anything unless I was absolutely certain it would happen."
· Remind employees of communication rules. During monthly staff meetings, Prever reiterates that no one -- not even a longtime investor -- is entitled to advance or confidential information about business developments. "With our new product coming on the market -- a drink called Toga -- that's been essential," Prever says.