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Small firms need a different sort of stock exchange

DO we really need a stock exchange these days? Chief executive Deirdre Somers suggested recently that one would have to be delusional to think otherwise. Them's fighting words, but the sad truth is very few companies choose to list in Dublin these days.

The extraordinary success of Cove Energy is a case in point and proves that an Irish company can do well when it lists overseas.

Whether a company does well with a listing in Dublin alone is a moot point, and it is difficult to think of a dynamic company that does not also have a London listing.

The writing is clearly on the wall for the exchange as we know it and this is bad news for small companies in search of funding.

With banks reluctant to lend and not a very safe place to store cash, there is clearly a need for some mechanism to match money and entrepreneurs.

It is time to create such a mechanism and replicate the success of the 18th Century joint stock company.

Those hardy souls setting up companies today will tell you that there is money available from the State for micro enterprises, while larger companies can access venture capitals funds, the bond markets or the stock exchange.

What appears to be missing is funding for companies that require somewhere between €5m and €20m. These companies are too small to interest the markets but too big for your average bank loan.

An exchange that solves this problem would be a valuable addition to the gamut of funding possibilities.

Indo Business