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Going public in the City of London has never been easier
When a company starts trading on London's Aquis Stock Exchange (AQSE), it earns the right to ring a gong. Some markets are famous for their bell-ringing ceremonies; at AQSE, the UK's newest and fastest-growing stock market, new issuers do it the big way. With a gong.
Going public is ultimately about access. AQSE is the easiest, fastest, most cost-effective, and tech-oriented gateway for European companies wanting to be granted access to the City, its thriving economy and influential investment community.
For many global and European organisations, the UK's stock market ecosystem has traditionally been the starting point for international issuers that want to meet the needs of investors at a global level.
European corporations can find themselves constricted by the rules of their own tight and often illiquid local markets and listing or cross-listing on AQSE allows them to take the leap into the top global financial centre. A recent City of London Corporation benchmarking study situates the City even before New York, Singapore, Frankfurt, Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, so bear with me on this.
AQSE is a Recognised Investment Exchange under section 285 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, allowing it to operate a regulated listings venue, at the same level as the London Stock Exchange or the London Metal Exchange.
You are not alone if this is your first time hearing about Aquis Exchange. Founded as a trading platform in 2012 by Alasdair Haynes, who doubles as Chair of the TheCityUK Business Council – AQSE offers a Growth Market and a Main Market.
The Main Market is reserved for larger companies with a track record of three years or more who can comply with the more demanding requirements of the UK Official List and associated UK Corporate Governance standards.
Meanwhile, AQSE's Growth Market (divided itself into two segments called Access and Apex) is a market for entrepreneurial enterprises seeking visibility and access to growth capital. Its regulatory framework is specially designed to meet the needs of small and medium-sized companies.
Today, over 100 securities trade on AQSE’s Growth Market and do it successfully. From Shepherd Neame to Equipmake Holdings, and from Arbuthnot Banking Group to Hydrogen Utopia International, AQSE is home to engineering, green energy, banking, eSports, real estate corporations and many others, all working to make a mark in their respective industries and generate wealth for their investors.
Haynes himself has explained it this way: "The segmented market gives businesses the much-needed support for their early stage of development. Think of it akin to a primary school, senior school and university for companies. They start on Access, grow their equity story and are admitted into Apex and, subsequently, the main market" so AQSE is supporting companies every step of the way.
Apex is open to more established companies, with a minimum £10m market cap, a trading history of no less than two years, a strong management team, and a clear growth strategy that maintains 25% or more securities in public hands. In addition, it is also open to appropriate European companies willing to cross-list in the UK financial space.
Access was conceived to support the growth of small and medium-scale enterprises and prepares young companies to scale up and flourish to the heights of larger businesses. It accepts and nurtures young companies by providing access to capital markets within a practical framework. Companies with less than two years of trading history and a minimum market capitalisation of £2m (ProBiotix Health and Oberon Investments Group are good examples of this) can be admitted into the Access market, a solid peak from which to grow.
The Admission Process on AQSE is painless, effective, and supportive of potential issuers, who instantly gain access to a plethora of member corporate advisers and market makers, as well as some of the top Investor Relations and Financial Public Relations practitioners in Europe. We are proud to be on that list.
Aquis Stock Exchange is also a Qualified Foreign Exchange for the OTC Markets, America's first entry point to international issuers. As a result, organisations with a ticker on AQSE can directly cross-list in the American market and present themselves properly to American Investors without having to report before the SEC.
Many issuers whose local European markets are not Qualified Foreign Exchanges can access the world's most dynamic financial spaces (London and New York) by following the AQSE-OTC path. A journey that can take just a few months and at a significantly lower cost than trading in LSE or Nasdaq.
For all, Aquis has grown to become a low toxicity exchange created under the idea that companies flourish in low-risk trading conditions. One that is transparent, shut to short-sellers, and where technology and innovation are fundamental factors of change.
AQSE champions entrepreneurship, transparency, and market performance and opens that mission to European companies.
London, with its financial match, continues to be unrivalled. And London, no matter what some say, continues to be the European capital for tech, innovation, finance, and great ideas.
For smaller companies seeking to access public markets - easily and affordably - Aquis is more than a good option. It is a wise option.
One that should be celebrated with a gong.