Archive for the ‘investment markets’ Tag

Boxing Clever on the World’s Stock Markets

Last week’s ‘NASDAQ vs AIM: Smackdown’ event hosted by NISP CONNECT and the Chartered Accountants Ireland Ulster Society was declared a credible draw in the end following a fascinating bout between two heavyweight teams representing both the New York and London investment markets. Neither team delivered a knock-out blow on the night as it became clear that both markets offered excellent opportunities to Northern Ireland entrepreneurs and high growth companies to float their companies through an Initial Public Offering (IPO).  The challenge was also thrown down to more local companies and entrepreneurs to raise the scale of their ambitions and to consider this route as a means of growing their companies to a £100M+ value rather than selling them at £20M.

Over three debating rounds held in the Europa Hotel, over 200 attendees heard the different perspectives of the investment banker/financier, the bourse and the entrepreneur – all with experience of both markets. In one corner representing NASDAQ there was Tom O’Neill, NASDAQ Board member and Chairman of Ranieri Partners; Isabella Schidrich, Senior Managing Director, NASDAQ and Chris Horn, Founder and former CEO of Iona Technologies which achieved the fifth-biggest initial public offering (IPO) in NASDAQ history. Team AIM was represented by Hugh McCutcheon, Davy Corporate Finance, Marcus Stuttard, Head of AIM, London Stock Exchange and Hugh Cormican, CEO of Cirdan Imaging and Co-founder of Andor Technology, one of only three NI companies to have been floated successfully on AIM to date.

The debate centred on the pros and cons of both these markets but also addressed many of the myths and misconceptions that exist about the process of floating.  To date, Northern Ireland has only a handful of companies which have gone down this route and compared with other regions in the UK we have still a long way to go to realise the full benefits of IPOs. If we are to develop a stronger local economy the message was heard loud and clear – we must aim higher and try to grow more £100M+ companies here which in turn will bring with it increased wealth and investment in Northern Ireland.

There are some encouraging indications that more NI companies are now showing an interest in this route and as a result we hope to see some more public flotations of local companies in the months ahead. We at the NI Science Park and our various business advisory partners involved in NISP CONNECT are working hard to provide whatever support and guidance we can to help companies to successfully approach and navigate the IPO process.  Continuing the boxing analogy… if Northern Ireland wishes to compete for world titles our local technology firms need to box clever on the world’s stock markets. I for one am confident they will. Seconds out…

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