So much for making London the go-to place for companies to list their shares. London Stock Exchange is having to work overtime just to keep those already listed, let alone attract new ones.
This week has delivered a triple blow to the stock exchange operator. First, we had reports that Shell looked at shifting its stock market listing and headquarters to the US, although that doesn’t seem to be on the table now. Second, reports suggest that chip designer Arm will not return to the London stock market and instead opt for a US listing.
AJ Bell’s Russ Mould said: “Now we’ve got the news from construction group CRH that it wants to switch its primary listing to the US. That would mean it no longer qualifies for inclusion in FTSE indices and therefore would leave the prestigious FTSE 100 index.
“There is logic to the move. A large chunk of CRH’s earnings come from the US, so that’s where it spends a lot of time both operationally and talking to investors. There is also the fact that it could get a higher valuation by trading on the US stock market which could come in handy if it wants to issue shares for acquisition deals. Plumbing group Ferguson did exactly the same thing.
“Efforts to relax the listing rules to attract more companies to London come across as a bit desperate. It should be a badge of honour to list in the UK, but that reputation is dwindling fast. Overseas investors lost interest in the trading venue as soon as the UK voted in favour of Brexit, and valuations have got even cheaper. That’s hardly a good sales pitch to attract more big companies to the UK market.
“There are plenty other companies in the FTSE 100 which do business in the US that could easily follow Ferguson and CRH. That’s not a good look for the London Stock Exchange.”