Increasingly, newly issues are only made available to institutional investors, with private investors being left out in the cold. It is cheaper for companies to raise money by a tight-knit placing than by a public offer which requires expensive advertising in national newspapers. Nevertheless, public offers do occasionally take place, and you can apply for shares using the form in the newspaper or on a web page. There are other ways to buy shares in new issues: if you are a client of a stockbroker, and that broker is handling a new issue, you may be invited to participate. Similarly some new issues are offered through financial intermediaries and, as a client of one of those intermediaries, you will have a chance to buy. Finally, there are several magazines and internet sites devoted to new issues by smaller companies which will send you information if you register your interest in advance.
Often they do, but not always. Most new issues (or Initial Public Offerings) are deliberately priced competitively so that the float is successful, and premiums on first day trading can certainly be dramatic. But be careful. Often the shares fall back fairly swiftly, sometimes below their launch price.
In general, companies on AIM are smaller and younger than their counterparts on the main market, and the received wisdom is that small companies are more risky than large ones because they are more easily blown off course. In recent years however, the share prices of even the largest companies have been extremely volatile and there have even been fatalities - Marconi, for instance. So it is too simple to say that AIM is the riskier market, and to base your portfolio risk management on that premise. Ultimately, risk is about the quality of the companies you invest in, not the market on which they are listed.
It's not our job to say no, but you should be aware that purchases and sales of OFEX companies are handled on a matched-bargain basis, which means that it can be very difficult to get hold of stock, and just as difficult to sell it. OFEX is a high risk high reward market. Caveat emptor.
Rights issues need to be judged on a case by case basis. Normally the amount you are asked to pay for the new shares is at a discount to the current market price, which makes them superficially attractive. But if you don't actually want to spend money on new shares, one alternative is to sell some of your rights and use the money raised to pay for a few of the shares to which you are entitled.
It varies from company to company, but usually you have to buy more than a nominal number. In other words, owning just one share won't get you the full range of perks. Some brokers publish lists of perks which tell you exactly what the eligibility requirements are. Otherwise, contact the company itself and ask the Company Secretary.
If you hold your shares in a nominee account run by your broker, you won't be sent company accounts. It's one of the disadvantages of nominee accounts. The other possible reason is that the registrar of Glaxo has not got your address correctly listed. Did you move house recently, and if so did you remember to tell the company?