Skip to main content

Morningstar is going the way of Google (GOOG) .

The Chicago-based fund rating giant today announced that it will use an auction format for its proposed initial public offering. Last summer, Internet search engine Google made its public debut in a highly publicized auction complete with a last-minute price cut. After much wrangling, Google shares eventually priced at $85. They have since more than doubled in value.

Joe Mansueto, Morningstar's chairman and CEO, says the company wants to provide investors equal access to shares and information.

"There are no preferential allocations, and every bid is handled in the same way," said Mansueto in a note. "This equality resonated with us, and we've been considering this option for some time. It is in keeping with our company philosophy of helping all investors not just large ones."

Morningstar is particularly interested in maintaining a level playing field after it introduced its proprietary system for rating mutual fund companies' corporate governance last year.

Morningstar also replaced

Morgan Stanley

as lead underwriter for the IPO in favor of

WR Hambrecht

, a firm with much-noted expertise in conducting auction-based public offerings.

"Our original group of underwriters elected not to participate in the auction approach, and we amicably parted ways," said Mansueto. "Our previous lead underwriter, Morgan Stanley, did an outstanding job to get us to this stage, and I thank them for their efforts."

Morningstar registered with the


to sell shares back on May 6, 2004, but the filing has not yet become effective. As of yet, there is no scheduled date for the IPO.