Thursday 29 September 2016

The Punt: ESM doing not too bad at all

Published 11/01/2016 | 02:30

Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince Muhammad bin Salman
Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince Muhammad bin Salman

Congratulations to the oft-derided Enterprise Securities Market (ESM) of the Irish Stock Exchange, which wasn't too far off its much bigger equivalent in London last year in terms of funds raised.

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Dublin's junior market helped companies (Applegreen and Malin) raise €400m via initial public offerings last year, while the AIM (Alternative Investment Market, though officially this is its former name rather than the long-form version) pulled in £600m for companies.

For the Aim, that was the worst performance since 2009, leading it to get a bit of a kicking from the 'Financial Times'.

"Aim left bruised by a lack of new issues," reads the headline on the piece by journalist John Murray Brown.

Further down the piece, the LSE's communications team earned their crust with a beautifully crafted bit of spin.

Though it conceded that the market had a difficult year, the LSE was quoted as saying: "For a growth market like AIM, the ability of existing companies to come to the market for fresh funds is almost more important than the number of IPOs".

The old expression "nearly never won a race" comes to mind.

Anyway, the denizens of Anglesea Street will probably be pleased with the small gap as the ESM enters its eleventh year.

Over €7bn has been raised by companies that have listed on it thus far.

We're rolling in the oils

Working in the financial world does funny things to your sense of humour.

For example, the Punt once spent some spare time watching YouTube clips of an aviation conference because it thought Michael O'Leary and Willie Walsh were so amusing.

Legendary hedge fund manager Crispin Odey's Bloomberg biography is also good for a chuckle. His hobbies are listed as "art" and "wine".

So the Punt understood when it heard about one financial adviser's experience last week.

After hearing the news about Saudi oil company Aramco's plans to float - which would make it by some distance the biggest listed company in the world - the adviser had to pull over their car because they were laughing too hard.

"Personally, I'm enthusiastic about this step," Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince Muhammad bin Salman told 'The Economist'.

The adviser was too. Let's see if there are more barrels of laughs (geddit?) to accompany this story.

Why not do your firm's PR?

Well done to Pebble chief executive Eric Migicovsky, who is the early frontrunner for The Punt's "Straight Talking in Business" award for 2016.

The modern tech world is plagued by silly jargon and mumbo-jumbo, so the 29-year-old Canadian's attitude went down a treat in these parts.

Migicovsky's company makes smartwatches and it has done rather well. For example, it was the first company to sell a million smartwatch units.

Now he's gone and said this in a recent interview with the 'Telegraph'.

"The key question people generally have around smartwatches, I propose, is 'why do I need one?'

"Some people probably don't need a smartwatch. It's rare for a company to acknowledge that some people don't need our product, but I think it's truthful.

"Why would you have a smartwatch - well, why not? There's a market of 1.2 billion watches are sold per year, we see a massive opportunity in making all watches smart. Because the watch is physically on you, it's different from your phone."

The enormous cost of the things and the fact that they don't seem to do much more than a phone seems like a decent answer to 'Why not?' - but all the same, the Punt thinks it's high time for an Eric-led ad campaign.

Irish Independent

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