Dutch auction

Dutch auction 1957 in Germany to sell fruits

A Dutch auction is a type of auction where the auctioneer begins with a high asking price which is lowered until some participant is willing to accept the auctioneer's price, or a predetermined reserve price (the seller's minimum acceptable price) is reached. The winning participant pays the last announced price. This is also known as a "clock auction" or an open-outcry descending-price auction.

This type of auction is convenient when it is important to auction goods quickly, since a sale never requires more than one bid. Theoretically, the bidding strategy and results of this auction are equivalent to those in a sealed first-price auction. The Dutch auction is named after its use in the Dutch Tulip craze[citation needed].


Auction process

In a Dutch auction, the item being sold is initially offered at a very high price, well in excess of the amount the seller expects to receive. Bids are not sealed, as they are in some types of auctions. The price is lowered in decrements until a bidder accepts the current price. That bidder wins the auction and pays that price for the item. For example, suppose a business is auctioning off a used company car: the bidding may start at $15,000. The bidders will wait as the price is successively reduced to $14,000, $13,000, $12,000, $11,000 and $10,000. When the price reaches $10,000, Bidder A decides to accept that price and, because he is the first bidder to do so, wins the auction and has to pay $10,000 for the car.

There is some confusion over terminology: some financial commentators and some third-party auction sites use the term "Dutch auction" to refer to second-price auctions, which are totally different from Dutch auctions: in a second-price auction, the winner pays the amount bid either by the lowest winning bidder or by the highest losing bidder.

Dutch auctions are a competitive alternative to a traditional auction, in which bids of increasing value are made until a final selling price is reached, because due to ever-decreasing bids buyers must act decisively to name their price or risk losing to a lower offer. [1]

A second item auction

A second item auction can be confused with a Dutch auction or a second price auction, especially in finance. In a second item auction the seller offers more than one identical items for sale, so that there may be more than one winning bidder. Each bidder can bid for all the items or only some of them, and publicly indicates the price that he/she is willing to pay for each item. However, all winning bidders need to pay only the lowest qualifying (successful) bid. If there are more successful bids than items available, priority goes to the bidders who submitted their bids first.

In order to beat a competing bidder, one must bid a higher price per item than that competitor, regardless of the number of items that are being bid for. Here is an example of how this might work:

The seller auctions 5 identical items.

  • Bidder "A" bids for 2 items at $20 each.
  • Bidder "B" bids for 4 items at $21 each.
  • Bidder "C" bids for 3 items at $18 each.

The outcome of this auction would be:

  • Bidder "B" wins 4 items at $20 each.
  • Bidder "A" wins 1 item at $20 each.

The price is $20 because that was the lowest successful bid (hence the "second price"). Since Bidder "A" was only awarded 1 item, and his original bid was for 2 items, he has the right to refuse the purchase of that partial amount. As a winning bidder, you have the right to refuse paying if you are only awarded less than the number of the items you were bidding on.

Public offerings

The United States Department of the Treasury, through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY), raises funds for the U.S. Government using a Dutch auction.[citation needed] The FRBNY interacts with primary dealers, including large banks and broker-dealers who submit bids on behalf of themselves and their clients using the Trading Room Automated Processing System ("TRAPS"), and are generally told of winning bids within fifteen minutes.

For example, suppose the sponsor of the issuance is seeking to raise $10 billion in ten-year notes with a 5.125% coupon and in aggregate the bids are as follows:

  • $1.00 billion at 5.115% (highest bid)
  • $2.50 billion at 5.120%
  • $3.50 billion at 5.125%
  • $4.50 billion at 5.130%
  • $3.75 billion at 5.135%
  • $2.75 billion at 5.140%
  • $1.50 billion at 5.145% (lowest bid)

In this example the % at high is 66.66%, meaning only $3 billion of the $4.5 billion at 5.130% will get bonds. Bids will be filled from the lowest yield (highest price) until the entire $10 billion has been raised. This auction will clear at a yield of 5.130%, and all bidders will pay the same amount. In theory, this feature of the Dutch auction format leads to more aggressive bidding as those who in this case bid 5.115% will receive the bonds at the higher yield (lower price) of 5.130%.

A variation on the Dutch auction, OpenIPO, was used on the IPO for Google stock. SRECTrade.com uses a two-sided Dutch auction to trade Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs).

Dutch auction share repurchases

The introduction of the Dutch auction share repurchase in 1981 allows firms an alternative to the fixed price tender offer when executing a tender offer share repurchase. The first firm to utilize the Dutch auction was Todd Shipyards. A Dutch auction offer specifies a price range within which the shares will ultimately be purchased. Shareholders are invited to tender their stock, if they desire, at any price within the stated range. The firm then compiles these responses, creating a supply curve for the stock.[2] The purchase price is the lowest price that allows the firm to buy the number of shares sought in the offer, and the firm pays that price to all investors who tendered at or below that price. If the number of shares tendered exceeds the number sought, then the company purchases less than all shares tendered at or below the purchase price on a pro rata basis to all who tendered at or below the purchase price. If too few shares are tendered, then the firm either cancels the offer (provided it had been made conditional on a minimum acceptance), or it buys back all tendered shares at the maximum price.

See also


  1. ^ http://www.epiqtech.com/auction_software-Dutch-Auction.htm
  2. ^ To understand the Dutch auction bidding and outcome from actual shareholder tendering responses, see Bagwell, Laurie Simon, "Dutch Auction Repurchases: An Analysis of Shareholder Heterogeneity,". 1992. Journal of Finance, Vol. 47, No. 1, 71-105.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dutch auction — Auction in which the lowest price necessary to sell the entire offering becomes the price at which all securities offered are sold. This technique has been used in Treasury auctions. The New York Times Financial Glossary auction in which the… …   Financial and business terms

  • Dutch auction — USA Dutch auction, Also known as descending price auction. A type of offering which uses a bidding process to find an optimal market price for a security, the lowest price at which an issuing company can sell all the available securities. In a… …   Law dictionary

  • Dutch auction — Dutch Dutch, a. [D. duitsch German; or G. deutsch, orig., popular, national, OD. dietsc, MHG. diutsch, tiutsch, OHG. diutisk, fr. diot, diota, a people, a nation; akin to AS. pe[ o]d, OS. thiod, thioda, Goth. piuda; cf. Lith. tauta land, OIr.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Dutch auction — Auction Auc tion, n. [L. auctio an increasing, a public sale, where the price was called out, and the article to be sold was adjudged to the last increaser of the price, or the highest bidder, fr. L. augere, auctum, to increase. See {Augment}.] 1 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dutch auction — If something is sold by setting a price, then reducing it until someone buys it, it is sold in a Dutch auction. It can also mean that something is changed until it is accepted by everyone …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • Dutch auction — n. an auction in which an initially high offering price is lowered by increments until a buyer or, as in U.S. Treasury sales of securities, sufficient buyers are found …   English World dictionary

  • Dutch auction — n [U and C] a public sale at which the price of something is gradually reduced until someone will pay it …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Dutch auction — noun count a sale in which the price of something gradually goes down until someone agrees to buy it …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Dutch auction — ► NOUN ▪ a method of selling in which the price is reduced until a buyer is found …   English terms dictionary

  • Dutch Auction — 1. A public offering auction structure in which the price of the offering is set after taking in all bids and determining the highest price at which the total offering can be sold. In this type of auction, investors place a bid for the amount… …   Investment dictionary

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