Upturn in IPOs across Europe

London continues to carry the bulk of the trade, but Europe’s main exhanges saw 95 IPOs from April to June – a vast improvement on the 23 in the same period last year.

The figures, produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers, show the value of market launches at EUR8.7bn, (£5.8bn) five times the 2003 value of EUR1.5bn.

London attractiveness for companies wishing to go public remains strong. While the second quarter of 2003 produced only 15 launches, the same quarter this year has witnessed 65 (69% of all launches in Europe), worth £2.6bn in funds raised.

Tom Troutbridge, head of PwC’s capital markets group, said: ‘The IPO pipeline is good across Europe’s major markets and the recovery we’ve seen in 2004 should continue into the second half of the year. Successful IPO candidates continue to be the more traditional companies generating profits and cash. There is no sign of a return to the dotcom boom,’ he added.

The biggest launch was Germany’s Deutsche Borse with the IPO of Deutsche Postbank which raised £1.4bn. London could produce only the fifth largest offering in Halfords, which listed in June raising £515m. London’s listings, mostly on the Alternative Investment Market, raised £1bn compared to £512m last year.

The apparent optimism tunes in with the results of a confidence survey by Saffery Champness. The firm found that many corporate financiers believe the stock market will rise by 10% by the end of 2004.

Charles Simpson, corporate finance partner at Saffery, said: ‘Our sense is that more deal opportunities exist in the market and indeed our own experience of 20% year-on-year growth in corporate finance income supports the views of our survey respondents.’

Last week, insolvency firm Begbies Traynor demonstrated its confidence in the markets by announcing its own launch on AIM later this year. UK companies as diverse as Cazenove, Premier Foods, Norwood Immunology, and Saga have been linked with an IPO.

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