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UK firms that list abroad should pay back state aid - UK Finance

UK firms that list abroad should pay back state aid - UK Finance

Companies that decide to list outside the UK or move valuable operations from the country should be made to pay back tax-payer funded support they have previously taken, according to a UK Finance report.

In recent years, there has been a shrinking pool of companies deciding to list on UK public markets. The number of firms trading on the LSE has fallen by 23% over the last eight years, compared to big increases on the Nasdaq and Euronext.

In 2023, Cambridge-based chip giant Arm opted to list in New York while BNPL outfit Klarna is now "leaning towards" a US listing after originally preparing to float in London. Meanwhile, a host of other UK-based fintechs, including EburyZopa and Zilch, are eying IPOs.

In a paper co-written by lobbying consultancy Global Counsel, UK Finance says "there is no question that competition from overseas venues is increasing," when it comes to attracting listings.

"For this reason, the government should also consider ways in which an expanded set of taxpayer-funded supports for early-stage growth companies involve a two-way commitment and would become repayable in part or full if a recipient ultimately chooses to list, or move valuable operations, outside the UK.

"Where a UK company chooses to join public markets or locate is a choice for the company. However, there is a strong case for linking taxpayer supports to future commitments to using UK public markets and operating in the UK."

The paper also backs the FCA's plan for a consolidated tape in order to give investors clear and low-cost trading data. On a move to T+1 it urges a "thorough" cost/benefit analysis that takes account of how the US shift pans out.

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