Authorized Shares

These are the maximum number of shares that a company can issue

Authorized shares are the maximum number of shares a corporation can lawfully issue to investors. The number of authorized stocks is indicated in the articles of formation of the firm.

Authorized Shares

It is also often included in the balance sheet's equity section. A usual range for authorized stocks is 10 to 15 million. Authorized stocks and authorized common stock are other terms for authorized stock.

It is the maximum number of shares that a corporation may issue under the law. Authorized stocks should not be confused with outstanding shares, which are the shares that have already been issued to the public by the issuing corporation.

The number of authorized stocks is initially specified in the articles of business formation, but it can be increased during a shareholder's meeting. A company's shareholders can raise the number of authorized stocks at a shareholders meeting if a majority vote is in favor.

These shares are always more than the number of outstanding shares.

The maximum number of shares a corporation is legally entitled to issue in the United States or elsewhere globally is referred to as authorized stock or authorized stocks. At a shareholders meeting, shareholders can raise the number of authorized stocks at any moment.

Graph analysis

A corporation's authorized stock structure refers to the many types, classes, and series of shares that it may issue. At least one share-class is required. A class of shares can consist of one or more series of shares if the Class's distinctive rights and limitations permit it.

What It Means for Individual Investors

The value of its outstanding shares determines the market capitalization of a corporation. As an individual investor, the share capital of a corporation may be of little interest to you.

The number of authorized stocks is only the same as the number of outstanding shares when, in rare cases, all the authorized stocks are issued. It also decides how much ownership each share provides.

The authorized stock capital of a firm may become more important if the board of directors wants to increase it. In such an instance, as a shareholder, you may be able to vote on the modification.

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When a corporation is created, it determines the maximum number of shares it will issue. All or a portion of a company's authorized stock is initially marketed on the primary market through an initial public offering (IPO) for trading on open markets.

When a business issues all of its authorized stock, the number of outstanding shares equals the number of authorized stocks. The number of issued or outstanding shares can only be equal to or fewer than the number of authorized stocks.


Outstanding shares are common stock already issued to the general public or distributed as preferred stock to stakeholders and senior executives. The authorized stock figure is usually the sum of these two amounts.

If a firm needs to issue more shares, the remaining approved but unissued shares can be issued through an additional public offering (APO). The authorized share capital of a corporation is the quantity of ordinary and preferred shares it is permitted to issue.

Angel and venture capitalists recommend that startups issue 10 to 20 million shares at the outset. Approximately eight to nine million such shares may be issued to the founders. In addition, one to two million shares have been set aside for the employee stock option pool.



A business can issue more shares than are currently permitted by holding a shareholder's vote and amending the corporate charter. For example, consider ABC Corp. firm with one million common shares with a par value of $5 each, for a total of $5 million in authorized stock capital.

However, the company's actual issued capital is only 500,000 shares, leaving 500,000 in the company's treasury for future issuance.

Another example, If XYZ Pvt Ltd has an authorized capital of $20 million and shares are issued to shareholders up to $15 million, it signifies that XYZ Pvt Ltd has issued shares that do not exceed the company's permitted capital limit.

It also has the option to issue an additional $5 million worth of shares in the future without expanding the authorized stock capital.

However, if XYZ Pvt Ltd has issued shares for $25 million to shareholders with the same $20 million of allowable money, the firm has issued shares over the authorized limit and is thus not permitted by law.

To do so, the procedure of expanding authorized stock capital must first be completed, followed by the distribution of shares to shareholders.

How does this Share Capital work?

When a business organizes, it files articles of incorporation with the state in which it operates. This corporate charter contains essential information about the firm, including its name and purpose.


The number of shares a corporation is permitted to issue is specified in the articles. If a firm needs extra money, it can issue new shares as long as they do not exceed the authorized stock capital.

To raise its share capital, a firm must update its corporate charter. This is because issuing new shares would eventually dilute the ownership of its present investors.

Instead of each owning 10% of the firm, if they were sold to other shareholders, they would each own only 6.67%.

Dilution happens when a firm issues extra shares, lowering current investors' ownership percentage. A single investment's value can be reduced via dilution. Retail investors should be on the lookout for possible share dilution warning signs.

In several conditions, a corporation may require an infusion of equity capital. Dilution risk refers to the possibility that a company will issue additional shares, diluting the percentage ownership of all current shareholders.

Importance of Choosing the Right Number of Authorized Shares

When a corporation seeks finance, authorized stocks can be given as a perk for important staff. Typically, the number of shares approved is far greater than required.


To keep a controlling interest in the firm and avoid a hostile takeover, a corporation may withhold from issuing all its allotted shares.

Limitations of Too Few Authorized Shares?

The number of shares you can authorize during the incorporation process is unlimited. There is no risk in failing to provide enough authorized stocks; nevertheless, if a firm needs to raise the number later, it will need to redraft and alter its Articles of Incorporation.

Considerations for Determining

When deciding how many shares of stock to approve, there are various factors to consider:

  • How many individuals are involved in the firm, and how many shares might you consider granting them?
  • Future Funding Requirements - Authorized stocks may be converted to issued shares by the votes of the board of directors.
  • Future Key Employee Benefits - Offering stock options is an excellent method to recruit the talent your company will require.



Entrepreneurs are not always willing to diminish their stake in a firm since it may imply relinquishing strategic control. However, subsequent events, such as market expansion for the company's products, might alter their perspective and need a modification of the authorized stock amount.

Facebook has 5,000 million Class A authorized stocks and 1 billion preference shares listed as of 2022. An expert advises entrepreneurs to consider the future trajectory of their companies while setting a figure in the first incorporation charter.

The articles of incorporation may only be altered with shareholder consent and necessitate substantial re-filing with authorities, which can result in significant legal expenditures.


Stock Splits and Authorized Stock

A stock split is a division of a company's issued stock based on a proportion specified by management. Activist investors can compel corporations to dilute their shares further and issue additional stock on public markets.

In such circumstances, the organization must amend its articles of incorporation to reflect the change. In addition, company X just announced a stock split of 2:1, which means that each publicly issued share is now worth two stocks of Company X.

For example, the total number of newly issued shares is currently 35,000. However, Company X's articles of formation limit are 40,000 shares. As a result, management will have to give up part of its shares to keep shares issued under that limit.

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Needs for Authorized Stock Restrictions

Entrepreneurs and established businesses can raise funds for expansion by issuing debt, taking out loans, or offering shares in public markets. The third approach allows unlimited funds to be raised but requires the firm to give up stock.


When a company founder registers their business with the state, he or she must designate the number of authorized stocks for their firm. This statistic restricts the number of equity shares issued on public markets.

A larger value, such as 5 billion, signifies that the corporation cannot issue more than 5 billion shares without further diluting its ownership. Advocates say they defend shareholder interests by limiting management's ability to dilute their shares.

 According to critics, limits are a time-consuming and costly bureaucratic burden. However, altering the articles of incorporation of a tightly owned or private company is pretty simple.

Senior management might force a company takeover without shareholder permission by issuing new shares that permit the acquirer to assume control.

This is especially true for publicly traded corporations, as altering the articles of incorporation is time-consuming. However, limits may be appropriate for private organizations since there are fewer stakeholders, and they may require protection from a rogue management team.

Other Types

The amount of this share capital a business can issue is the number of shares it can issue, but there are other sorts of capital you may hear about from time to time. This section will go over the various kinds to help you understand how they compare and operate together.

1. Issued capital

The quantity of shares sold or distributed by a firm is referred to as its issued capital. It is often far smaller than its authorized stock capital, reflecting that the company's shares are privately owned rather than publicly traded on an exchange.

2. Outstanding shares

Outstanding shares are shares of stock issued by a firm that has been "completely paid for." The number of outstanding shares of a firm refers to the number of shares currently owned by the public.


When a firm repurchases its stock, the number of outstanding shares decreases. However, the total number of outstanding shares cannot exceed the number of authorized stocks.

Utilizing outstanding shares to calculate EPS may result in overstated gains, but using authorized stocks may significantly offset a realized loss

Investors must comprehend this fundamental terminology to estimate a company's financial health and performance accurately. Holders of outstanding or issued shares usually have voting rights and receive dividend payouts (if announced by the Board).

3. Authorized Shares vs. Outstanding Shares: An Overview

Instead of being reserved or unissued, issued shares are a slice of the authorized stock pie provided or issued to certain stakeholders.

The corporation determines how many shares to allocate to certain stakeholders such as workers, stockholders, contractors, investors, etc. When these stocks are given out or granted to these particular stakeholders, they are called issued stock.


If a firm does not issue all authorized stocks, the total number of authorized stocks exceeds the number of issued shares. It is not necessary to distribute or issue all of the authorized stocks.

The corporation, for future distribution, may retain a certain quantity of shares. The maximum number of shares that can be lawfully issued to shareholders is authorized to stock.

The articles of formation of the firm include this number. The total number of authorized stocks always equals or exceeds the total number of outstanding shares.

The number of authorized stocks may be kept significantly greater than the number of outstanding shares so that an organization can sell more shares at any moment to meet its funding needs.

How Many Shares Should You Authorize?

An organization's authorized capital shares are the shares that it can issue. There are no restrictions on the number of shares that can be approved.

When a company goes public, for example, through an initial public offering (IPO), it uses authorized stocks. Employee shares are used to deliver financial instruments such as stock warrants or options to employees.


All forms of shares that can be issued are included in authorized capital shares, such as:

1. Common shares

These are a sort of security that represents equity ownership in a firm. Other synonyms for common shares are common stock, ordinary share, and voting share. Holders of common stock have the right to a portion of a company's earnings.

Shareholders with common shares also have voting rights, which allows them to vote in Board of director elections at annual shareholder meetings.

2. Preferred shares

Preferred shares (sometimes spelled preferred stock or preference shares) are a form of investment equivalent to common stock. There are no voting privileges in this type of stock.

The fundamental distinction is that preferred shareholders have a higher claim on a company's assets and earnings than common shareholders. Regarding dividend distributions, preferred shareholders have priority over common shareholders.

First preference over regular shareholders in claiming assets if the firm liquidates. Preferred shareholders are paid before normal shares but after debt holders. Some preferred stocks have the option to be converted into a certain number of ordinary shares that the issuer can repurchase at future times.

Preferred Shares

3. Restricted Shares

Restricted shares are shares that are primarily granted to company officers, directors, and other senior executives. Until certain requirements are satisfied, the shares are not transferable.

Examples include a firm's director continuing to work for the company for a set amount of time or the company meeting specified profits per share (EPS) figures.


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Researched and authored by Manal Fatima | LinkedIn

Reviewed and edited by Abdul Aziz Rasheedy | LinkedIn

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