Business Irish

Sunday 26 January 2020

Yes, the ISE is under pressure but delistings are a global problem

THE Irish Stock Exchange has been in existence for more than 200 years, and I'd guess that at some point in each of those years someone has predicted its imminent demise.

No doubt they'll be doing the same for many years to come.

Happily, those predictions have proved consistently wrong, but that's not to say that the ISE is not under pressure.

Financially, the performance continues to be strong and we're benefiting from the investment we made in diversifying and internationalising our business.

Nevertheless, the domestic market, which is still an important part of the ISE's overall business strategy, has been impacted by the effective nationalisation of much of the Irish banking sector, a lack of IPOs (which we're also seeing in other places) and decisions by companies to change their listing status on the Irish Stock Exchange.

First things first -- delistings are not unique to the Irish market. In the US, the number of listed companies on the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ and the former American Stock Exchange has fallen by 44pc in the past decade.

AIM has also seen the number of companies on its markets fall by some 35pc since 2007.

These are stark statistics, but nobody is suggesting that Wall Street or London have had their day.

And let's dispel the myth about listing status -- from a trading and investor perspective there is no difference between a primary and secondary listing.

CRH's decision to recalibrate its listing arrangements has ensured it has access to the widest pool of investors -- in fact, the ISE's share of CRH trading has increased following its decision to have a secondary listing in Dublin. Nobody thinks that Ryanair's share price has been affected by its decision to have its primary listing in Ireland and a secondary listing in the UK.

Of course, we would rather not lose companies to other markets, but in this age of globalisation companies make choices on how to best access the most relevant investment pools for them.

Those choices have been more affected in recent times by currency considerations.

However, wherever they are listed, investors ultimately follow good companies -- and this is demonstrated by the fact that Irish companies have the most highly internationalised share registers of anywhere in Europe.

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