A public company is a company whose shares trade on a stock exchange. Typically, public companies have sold shares to the public through an initial public offering (IPO).
By going public, a company gains access to equity and debt markets, making it easier to raise capital to fuel growth. At the same time, the company becomes publicly accountable for its operational and financial performance. It must involve shareholders in some corporate governance decisions and follow strict rules of financial reporting.
Specifically, a public company has to release financial statements completed according to the International Financial Reporting Standards. Those statements must be verified by independent auditors appointed by the company’s board of directors and published on a prescribed schedule.