Daily Mail

Stop talking Britain down

Aviva boss Amanda Blanc issues rallying cry as yet another UK firm eyes New York listing

- By Mark Shapland

One of the most powerful women in British finance has told the country to ‘stop talking itself down’ after yet another company said it was eyeing a listing in new York.

Aviva chief executive Amanda Blanc ( pictured) called on Britain to back itself, adding that the UK needed to ‘start delivering’ on slashing unnecessar­y regulation.

Her rallying cry comes amid mounting concern over UK capital markets after chipmaker Arm and building materials giant CRH opted for listings in new York last week.

The City was dealt a further blow when fintech star Oaknorth warned it would float its shares in new York instead of London.

Problems for these firms include a lack of access capital as well as a failure by investors to understand fast-growing tech companies.

But Blanc refused to join in the hysteria, saying: ‘We want the UK to be successful and I think we should stop talking ourselves down.

‘We have a lot of the component parts in the UK, and we just need to get out of our own way and actually start delivering on some of the stuff that we said we would do.’

Oaknorth is a particular disappoint­ment given it is a British tech success and could be in a position to go public as early as this year.

Chief executive Rishi Khosla took aim at Britain’s capital structure, saying it lacked a domestic investor base focused on high-growth technology.

The comments mark a significan­t shift from previous interviews, in which Khosla had indicated that London was his number one choice.

There was further anxiety when BSF enterprise also joined the list, saying yesterday it too had submitted an applicatio­n for trading its shares in the US alongside its primary listing on the main market in London.

Despite only being valued at £13m, BSF caused a stir last month when it produced the UK’s first ever lab-grown pork fillet. Top financiers have lamented the exodus, calling for an overhaul of the UK capital markets.

Richard Buxton, fund manager at Jupiter, said a two-decade-old rule requiring companies to hold pension deficits on their balance sheets needed to be removed.

He added that it was responsibl­e for ‘billions of pounds’ flowing out of UK equities. Ahead of the Budget next week, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is under pressure to implement changes that could make it easier for institutio­nal investors to back British firms.

Research from the Office for national Statistics showed that in 2000, 39pc of all shares listed on the London Stock exchange were owned by UK pension funds and insurers.

But by 2020 that number had fallen to 4pc. Buxton told the Financial Times: ‘The UK, with its world-class universiti­es, has enormous opportunit­ies. But we appear incapable of funding these businesses or retaining them to grow in this country.’

M&G chief executive Andrea Rossi warned the UK was still suffering from Kwasi Kwarteng’s September mini-Budget, when uncosted tax cuts sent the bond markets into a spiral. He said: ‘Britain has great intellectu­al property but the issue is when it needs to go to the next stage, firms look to American capital.’

He added that the ‘UK can prosper but it was affected by the events of autumn 2022’.

Blanc was more upbeat, saying Britain was on the right path, adding all the country needed was a ‘bit of confidence’.

Aviva’s shares rose 2.7pc yesterday after its full-year operating profits of £2.2bn came in ahead of expectatio­ns.

‘UK has enormous opportunit­ies’

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