Big Five target hi-tech stocks

Big Five firms are hoping to grab a greater share of corporate finance business later this month when a new market for high technology stocks is expected to be launched by the London Stock Exchange, writes Nick Huber.

The Exchange is refusing to comment on the new market, which is expected to be called Techmark and would be the first in the UK aimed at fast-growing Internet and technology companies which are looking to raise more capital.

The government has been keen to emulate the success of IT start-up companies in the US and Techmark would also provide a natural spin-off from London’s Alternative Investment Market.

Founded in 1995, AIM allows smaller companies to list without the strict qualifying criteria that apply to the main index, such as a three-year trading record.

Big Five corporate practices have been keen to build up clients in the technology sector, and Robert Conway, PricewaterhouseCooper’s global technology industry leader for financial advisory services, said: ‘NASDAQ has been phenomenally successful in attracting hi-tech stocks but AIM hasn’t. London needs to respond.’

In July the profile of Internet start-up companies was raised dramatically when Freeserve, the largest UK Internet service provider, floated on the London Stock Exchange for £1.5bn.

But last week Oracle, the US enterprise software giant, revealed it had been unable to find any UK Internet start-ups to receive a slice of $100m (£62.4m), offered by venture capitalists to trailblazing Internet businesses.

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