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Euronext must ensure Ryanair’s exchange flight lands in Dublin

Jon Ihle


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Michael O’Leary’s confirmed Ryanair is planning to delist from the London Stock Exchange. Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Michael O’Leary’s confirmed Ryanair is planning to delist from the London Stock Exchange. Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Michael O’Leary’s confirmed Ryanair is planning to delist from the London Stock Exchange. Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Brexit was supposed to be a boon for Euronext Dublin.

The hope in the offices of the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE) was that companies on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) would seek a second listing in Dublin to maintain access to European capital after the UK left the European Union.

Only Hammerson, the retail property company that owns Dundrum Town Centre and the Swords Pavilion, made the leap. Everybody else held tight. In fact, more companies have departed Euronext Dublin since Brexit than have joined.

But Michael O’Leary’s confirmation yesterday that Ryanair is planning to delist from the LSE could be a sign of better things to come for Dublin, where expanding the equity listing side of the business has been a tough job for CEO Daryl Byrne.

Ryanair is pulling its London listing because of post-Brexit EU restrictions on British shareholders and a dramatic reduction in trading volumes there in recent years.

In fact, Ryanair is part of a broader trend of London trading moving to European venues, specifically those owned by Euronext, the pan-European exchange company that owns the ISE and several other markets. In January, after the UK formally left the EU, trading in euro-denominated shares shifted overnight to Euronext exchanges, mainly Amsterdam and Paris.

But this shift was already evident in data from Dublin, where months before the market shares in not only Ryanair but other big blue-chips like CRH and Smurfit Kappa had already passed the 50pc mark.

Yet while Dublin has captured volumes, it has consistently failed to attract new listings.

Yes, there was Uniphar in 2019 and Corre Energy in September, but no other companies have come to market since a flurry of post-crisis activity in the middle of the last decade. Medtech company HealthBeacon is reportedly eyeing up an IPO, but that’s it.

In fact, the traffic has been in the other direction, with private buy-outs, acquisitions and de-listings dominating the news for Irish-listed companies.

Green Reit, CPL and Applegreen have all been taken off market in the last year or so, while Aryzta has opted for a single listing in Switzerland and Dole listed in New York, taking out Total Produce in the transaction.

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This is all the more remarkable because the pandemic has been great for stock markets generally. After the initial panic selling in March 2020, companies – including Ryanair – raced to shareholders to load up on equity either to exploit opportunities or to whether tough times ahead.

IPOs in New York, London and other markets have come thick and fast. Even the tiny Oslo Bors has booked more than 60 new listings in the last year.

Dublin may be Euronext’s centre of excellence for bonds and funds – a lucrative niche, to be sure – but equity is the lifeblood of any exchange.

It’s true that stock market activity here may have been hampered in recent years by distractions at the two main stockbrokers. Goodbody has been up the aisle with three different suitors in as many years, finally settling on AIB, while Davy has been dousing regulatory fires and was forced into a sale to Bank of Ireland.

With those troubles out of the way, Euronext Dublin now has a big opportunity. Champions don’t come bigger than Ryanair and Michael O’Leary. This is a flight the ISE can’t miss.


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