Last Updated on May 3, 2023 by Anjali Chourasiya

Any event or decision by the management of public-listed companies that has the potential to influence the securities issued by the company – equity or debt – qualifies as corporate action. Because of the potential impact on investments or holdings of investors, corporate action remains one of the keenly watched spaces among investors. In this article, learn about corporate action, its working and types of corporate actions with examples.

What is a corporate action?

Any action by a public-listed company that causes a significant change or has the potential to create a change in the securities issued by the company and influences its stakeholders is called corporate action. 

When a publicly-listed business takes corporate action, it starts a process that impacts the price of securities it has issued. Corporate activities can range from severe financial issues like bankruptcy and dissolution to changing the title or trade symbol.

Corporate activities include dividends, spin-offs, stock splits, mergers, acquisitions, and management changes. A firm’s proxy statement, issued before a public company’s annual meeting, generally includes corporate actions requiring shareholder approval.

How does it work?

Publicly listed firms are usually governed by a board of directors, which comprises individuals intimately associated with the company and are appointed to various roles. 

The board must approve any corporate action of directors, which is usually done by a vote. In certain circumstances, shareholders can vote on some or all of the company’s corporate actions. 

Types of corporate actions

The following are the three fundamental categories of corporate actions:

  1. Mandatory

The board of directors of a corporation is responsible for mandatory corporate actions. For example, the issue of a cash dividend is a necessary activity that affects all of the company’s owners. The company’s governing body carries out the action. Other required acts include spin-offs, stock splits, and mergers. As the term “mandatory” suggests, the shareholders need to accept the action made.

  1. Mandatory (with several options)

Mandatory corporate actions with alternatives provide shareholders with various choices. For example, take dividends issued by a company. The firm can give dividends in stock or cash, with the latter being the default choice. But here, the shareholders can select a dividend payment method.

  1. Voluntary

Voluntary corporate actions are activities in which shareholders choose to take part. A tender offer or rights issue is an excellent example of voluntary corporate action.

Examples of corporate actions

Mandatory action

1. Stock split and reverse stock split

A company may decide to go for a stock split or reverse stock split. A stock split is a situation in which a corporation declares that its shares’ face value will be divided. The stock’s market price may decline due to this practice, while the company’s market capitalisation remains unchanged. A reverse stock split, alternatively, has the opposite effect. It is used to raise share prices by decreasing the number of outstanding shares.

2. Bonus issue

These are free shares that the company’s shareholders get in exchange for the shares they hold. The reserves in shareholder funds are used to issue bonus shares. Companies announce the ratio by which new shares are distributed to existing stockholders. The number of shares issued rises when bonus shares are given, but the overall value of the shares remains the same.

3. Merger and acquisition

A merger happens when two or more ventures agree to join to expand their operations and profits. Similarly, an acquisition occurs when a more prominent firm buys or overtakes a smaller company.

4. Spin-offs

Corporate spin-offs happen when a company, for reasons of expanding or new acquisitions, ‘spin-off or ‘separates’ a part of its company to create a parallel venture. 

Mandatory action with several options

Dividend payout

Most financially sound firms pay their shareholders a part of their profits in the form of dividends. This is, however, not a compulsion for the firm. The company may choose to reinvest the profit to further growth. When it is issued, shareholders can select either cash dividends or stock dividends. If the shareholders don’t submit their preference within the prescribed time, then the default option is applied – which is cash dividends.

Use Tickertape to find the cash dividend paid by a listed company. 

Voluntary action

1. Buyback

A firm might offer to buy back its shares from current stockholders if it believes the price is too low or has excess money that it cannot put to good use. Buybacks lower the number of shares in circulation, resulting in higher EPS.

2. Rights issue 

A firm does this by issuing new shares to all current stockholders in proportion to their stake in the company. Often, new shares are given at a discount to encourage shareholders to apply for the offering. For example, in a 3:1 rights issue, a stockholder can purchase one share for every three shares he holds in the firm.


Corporate action is any action performed by a corporation, usually by its board of directors, that substantially impacts the firm and its shareholders. Investors need to keep an eye on all the updates happening in the financial world to profit from corporate actions.


Where can we get the information on any corporate action from any company?

Any corporation action will be informed to the shareholders by the company. Alternatively, you can also know the corporate announcements on NSE and BSE official websites.  

What are mandatory corporate actions? 

Corporate actions which are mandatory that every shareholder needs to abide by are called mandatory corporate action. For example, mergers, stock-splits, and issuing cash dividends are mandatory corporate actions. 

What are voluntary corporate actions?

Voluntary corporate actions are the ones which are not mandatory, and shareholders have a choice to opt or deny. Voluntary corporate actions examples are rights issues or tender-offer. 
Nikitha Devi
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