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U.K. Tech IPOs Nearly Halt as Brexit Looms

While companies await clarity on Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, tech IPOs are at a high globally.

  • Joe McGrath

Just one technology company listed on the London Stock Exchange’s alternative investment market in the first six months of 2017, even as initial public offerings for the sector hit a two-year high globally.

Moore Stephens’ Tech Barometer report and PwC’s Global Technology IPO Review show that the U.K.’s AIM listings have nearly halted since the vote to leave the European Union. Ethernity Networks was the only company to list on AIM in the first half of this year across the software, hardware, telecoms, electronics, support services and ‘other technology’ sectors, according to the Moore Stephens report. That compares with eight such listings during the same six-month period last year.

“Brexit has been the main driver behind the lack of IPOs,” said Dougie Hunter, associate director at Moore Stephens. “I don’t think you can get away from that.”

Private-equity firms that earlier saw the U.K. stock market as an attractive way to cash out of their investments now prefer “secondary buyouts,” or selling companies in their portfolio to other buyout firms, according to Hunter. Meanwhile technology firms have picked up the pace in going public, with 28 companies raising $5.1 billion in IPOs in the second quarter, the highest number of tech IPOs in two years, according to PwC’s report released last month.

“The improvement of economic fundamentals in the major developed economies, continued rallies in many equity markets and the backlog of tech companies waiting to go public led to the increased volume,” Raman Chitkara, partner and global technology leader at PwC, said in the report.

The London Stock Exchange did not respond to a request for comment about the slowdown in tech IPOs in the U.K.

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Investments in companies listed on London’s AIM have made strong gains over the past year. The FTSE AIM All-Share Index was up 29.61 percent in the 12 months through June, according to data from FE Analytics.

Hunter believes there are a handful of companies looking to list on AIM once there’s more clarity on how U.K. companies will be impacted by Britain’s exit from the E.U.

“When the landscape becomes clearer, people will think let’s just get on with it,” he said.