London listings at five-year low despite spring flurry
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.”