The ultimate guide to the consequences of Issuing Preference Shares

By Joanne Hue, published: 2023-01-27

Issuing Preference Shares
Image by mindandi on Freepik

Preference shares provide the owners of those shares the entitlement to be a priority preference during the payment of dividends, The preference is given over individuals that have equity shares. The payment of dividends for preference shareholders is fixed. The dividend payment of the preference shareholders is fixed. You can find templates for preference shares investments through Zegal’s services

 The advantages of preference shares entail priority payment of dividends, prior claims to business assets, and add-on benefits. Preference shares have fixed deposits and their dividends are paid in preference shares when the company makes a profit. Unlike common shareholders, preference shareholders are prioritized when remitting unpaid dividends. 

When a company undergoes loss and files for bankruptcy or liquidates its possessions, preference shareholders have a stronger claim over the company assets. They will receive adequate compensation if the business shuts down. Additionally, they have benefits like the right to exchange common shares with convertible shares. 

Issuing Preference shares also bear some disadvantages. Preference shareholders need to concede their voting rights. Unlike the situation with equity shareholders, businesses are not liable to preference shareholders. Since preference stocks are usually issued to the general public, businesses that chose equity can acquire a lower equity-to-debt ratio.

What are preference shares?

A preference share places the shareholder in priority during dividend payment and asset distribution. It is different from common share as the shareholder does not have voting rights or the ability to influence decisions in the company. Preferred shareholders cannot be elected to the board of directors or vote on corporate policies. Preferred shareholders are similar to bonds because they provide the holder dividends in perpetuity. 

A preference stock calculates its dividend yield by dividing the dividend by the stock price. Generally, it is estimated as a percentage of the present market price after its exchange. Common stock, on the other hand, has variable dividends that are proclaimed by the board of directors. It is never warranted due to which companies do not need to pay out dividends to common stocks.

Preferred shares have a par value which is affected by interest rates- similar to bonds. The value of preferred shares declines when interest rates increase. This is different from common stocks as the value of the share as the value of shares is not controlled by the demands and supply of the market. 

Consequences for existing shareholders

Even though Preference Shareholders do not have any voting rights and cannot impact the decisions of the business, the addition of preference shareholders still impacts the common shareholders. The addition of newer shareholders through preference shares increases the company’s financial resources while diluting the stocks of its common shareholders. The dilution of shares results in a reduction of the company’s proportional ownership percentage. 

Preference Shareholders are essentially disadvantageous to common shareholders during loss. If the company undergoes bankruptcy or has to sell its assets, the preference shareholders are prioritized. Preference shareholders are always adequately compensated. Since preference shareholders do not undergo the same liabilities as common shareholders, the issuing of preference shares could be disadvantageous to common shareholders. Additionally, preference shareholders are made the priority during the dividend payment.

Alternatives to issuing preference shares

Debentures are a viable alternative to preference shares. A corporate or government bond that is not secured by an asset is known as a debenture. Debentures are essentially bonds that are structurally distinct from secured debt. Despite having higher risk in comparison to secured bonds, debentures have less risk than preference shares. This is due to the senior liquidation rights. Debentures are senior to preference shares in the event of bankruptcy or liquidation.

The other alternative to preference shares is simply increasing or adding the number of common shares. With the addition of common shareholders, the company does not need to prioritize dividend payments. In case of bankruptcy or liquidation of assets, all shareholders are equitably compensated without priority. Furthermore, the addition of common shareholders means that the new shareholders have limited liability to the company based on the proportion of shares they hold. Shareholders have voting rights depending on their ownership. This suggests that individual shareholders will have some leverage over the company’s decisions, unlike preference shareholders.


Preference sarees are generally issued to the public when the company needs fundraising. The preference shareholders do not have any voting rights within the company but hold certain entitlements. These entitlements entail prioritization during dividend divisions and asset distribution. The addition of preference shareholders may have impacts on existing common shareholders. While, preference shares have their benefits, debentures and issuance of additional common shares are viable alternatives to preference shares. 

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