Lon­don list­ings at five-year low de­spite spring flurry

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Lucy Bur­ton

THE re­cent block­buster floats of petrol sta­tion chain Vivo En­ergy and cy­ber se­cu­rity group Avast have failed to spark a boom in stock mar­ket list­ings as the num­ber of share sales plunges to a five-year low.

Less than 20 com­pa­nies have floated in Lon­don since Jan­u­ary, ac­cord­ing to Dealogic, a third less than the to­tal this time a year ago and the low­est num­ber since 2013.

That is de­spite two multi-bil­lion pound deals tak­ing place in Lon­don al­ready this month, with last week’s £2.4bn list­ing of Prague-based soft­ware firm Avast one of the UK’S big­gest ever tech­nol­ogy floats. Hous­ing fi­nance firm Ur­ban Ex­po­sure and City law firm Rosen­blatt have also joined the stock mar­ket in re­cent weeks.

City ad­vis­ers say that while there is plenty of ac­tiv­ity else­where in Europe, with the amount raised on Euro­pean ex­changes soar­ing 69pc so far this year, fewer British com­pa­nies are eye­ing up a float. “Pri­vate eq­uity is less will­ing to float UK do­mes­tic com­pa­nies [this year],” said Matthew Hall, a port­fo­lio man­ager at Al­lianz Global In­vestors.

“A load of do­mes­tic deals took place be­tween 2013 and 2016, and a lot of those sub­se­quently have not per­formed very well.

“The per­for­mance of Avast has not been spec­tac­u­lar, and that might just lead to less ex­cite­ment.”

Bankers agree that there is lit­tle ap­petite from UK cor­po­rates this year. “Europe re­mains busy and ac­tive, but purely UK do­mes­tic names re­main chal­lenged – [they] don’t ben­e­fit as much from a weaker pound or global de­mand,” said Gareth Mccart­ney, a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at UBS.

“In the back­ground there is the tail end of the Brexit un­cer­tainty, but it’s also a func­tion of where we are in the eco­nomic cy­cle.”

Craig Coben, vice-chair­man of cap­i­tal mar­kets for Bank of Amer­ica Mer­rill Lynch, said: “In­vestors are kick­ing the tyres, look­ing un­der the bon­net and giv­ing a full MOT be­fore they par­tic­i­pate.”

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