Daily Mail

Ex-chancellor warns London stock market now ‘less attractive’

As chip designer Arm chooses to float in US...

- By John-Paul Ford Rojas and John Abiona

A FORMER chancellor said London has become a ‘ less attractive place to list’ as ministers were urged to speed up market reforms following Arm’s decision to float in the US.

The Cambridge chip designer’s decision to pick Wall Street over the City for its £50bn public offering prompted soul searching in the City and Westminste­r.

It was described as a ‘kick in the teeth’ by one analyst while Philip Hammond – Chancellor when Arm was sold to Japan’s SoftBank in 2016 – said: ‘London has become a less attractive place to list and that’s largely because of listing criteria and the lack of deep pools of capital in London.’

Julia Hoggett, chief executive of London Stock Exchange, urged ministers to pick up the pace of reform.

‘ The announceme­nt demonstrat­es the need for the UK to make rapid progress in its regulatory and market reform agenda, including addressing the amount of risk capital available to drive growth,’ she said.

‘We are working with regulators, government and wider market participan­ts to ensure UK capital markets provide the best possible funding environmen­t for UK and global companies.’

Anthony Browne, the South Cambridges­hire MP whose constituen­cy includes Arm’s HQ, said the decision was a ‘big blow’ and voiced fears over jobs and research – though Arm said it was expanding its UK presence and would open a site in Bristol.

The decision to list in new York came as London-listed building materials giant CRH also decided to seek a new York listing.

Rishi Sunak met Arm boss Rene Haas last month to woo the company back to London, where it was listed for 18 years before being snapped up by SoftBank.

Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority was said to be ready to bend rules to persuade Arm, whose technology underpins the global smartphone industry, to return to the UK. But Arm said: ‘Softbank and Arm have determined that pursuing a US- only listing of Arm in 2023 is the best path forward.’

It said it would continue to add jobs in the UK, insisting it was ‘proud of its British heritage’. It also ‘intends to consider a subsequent UK listing in due course’.

The Government said: ‘We continue to attract some of the most innovative and largest companies in the world and note Arm’s commitment to expanding its presence in the UK, providing a boost to growth, jobs and investment.’ But Tory MP Browne said: ‘It is a big blow. The problem with listing overseas is that where the investors are, jobs and research often follows. The Government has tried its best to get Arm listed in the UK but money talks: even the UK government cannot resist the powerful gravitatio­nal pull of the US stock markets.’

Victoria Scholar, at Interactiv­e Investor, said: ‘Arm’s abandonmen­t of London is another kick in the teeth for the Square Mile’s attractive­ness among internatio­nal investors.’

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