More on London’s AIM

January 5th, 2007

I recently found a couple of articles talking about the AIM and its place in the scheme of things for cash-hungry businesses. My earlier point about the AIM was that it is not a very good “out” for companies hoping to escape the US environment. Most companies merge eventually, and if a suitor is subject to Sarbanes-Oxley and the rest of the SEC’s requirements, the prospective selling company had better comply as well or risk a drop in its purchase valuation.

AIM as a Step on the Road to Liquidity
Cleantech Investing summarizes the benefits and pitfalls of the AIM pretty well. It is easier and cheaper to go public, but harder for big shareholders to get liquidity given the thin trading in most stocks on the market. The AIM therefore serves more as an alternative to mezzanine financing for certain kinds of companies- it is not a good source of liquidity and at present doesn’t appear to be a great place to remain long term.

This may all change over time, of course. The number of US-based companies on the AIM (36 by my count) is very small. Still, the data definitely supports my thinking that companies need to maintain a plan for Sarbanes compliance.

AIM as Market of Choice for Clean Energy Companies
The other interesting point Cleantech notes is that a survey lists the AIM as the go-to market of choice for clean energy companies, and predicts it will remain that way for the next three years. The survey summary is frustratingly short on detail as to why this should be so. It cites the “arduous US regulatory environment” as the principal driver behind the trend, but doesn’t explain why this makes the AIM more compelling for clean energy businesses than for those in any other sector.

The danger I see in this thinking is companies financing themselves into a corner by going public too quickly with too little planning for how to keep M&A valuations high in the long term.

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