London Stock Exchange celebrates Corporate Rewarding Awards

Ring in the new – optimism at the London Stock Exchange

As a journalist I reported on the end of the open outcry trading era at the London Stock Exchange and as an adviser I have supported companies making their debut on the market – but I have never been involved in the opening bell ceremony.

Today it is very much ceremonial. The Big Bang deregulation of the late 1980s did for the shouting and hand signals of the Exchange floor and delivered electronic trading. A trading algorithm isn’t listening out for a bell these days – the clock is what matters.

That didn’t stop me feeling a little nervous for all to go well as I stood on the balcony of the London Stock Exchange last week counting down to the start of the day’s trading – and I was merely a spectator. I was there thanks to a kind invite from Helen Dunne of CorpComms Magazine who had the responsibility of actually pressing the button to start the day’s trading.

The Exchange was celebrating Helen’s launch of CorpComms’ Corporate Reporting Awards 2024, whose categories range from best annual reports to best capital markets day.
It was an example of how important it is to the Exchange to recognise the work of market participants, especially at a time when participation in the market – or a perceived lack of it – is under the spotlight.

The popular narrative of London is of a dearth of IPOs, delistings and takeovers of companies who share prices have been shunned, and better value for investors elsewhere, notably the US. But is that really the story?

Globally IPO volumes were down last year, the NYSE has seen IPO volumes at a decade low this year and it is having its own fair share of delistings.

David Schwimmer – CEO of LSEG the parent company of the Exchange (which today is only 5% of group revenues) – told the excellent Money Maze Podcast last week that there are a lot of myths about the Exchange. He is right and he needs to keep debunking them. The Exchange needs a bit of open outcry and to talk its own book more vociferously.

London remains the most international capital market in the world – 40% of the capital that comes into the London Stock Exchange comes from the US – and the stock market remains an efficient and attractive place to raise capital.

IPO pipelines have themselves become a bit mythical in recent years, but Mr Schwimmer thinks it looks more encouraging than for some time and his optimism was echoed this week by NYSE President Lynn Martin about New York.

One Shein (or indeed a Raspberry Pi) will not make a summer, but the forecast from the two exchanges is certainly encouraging and the start of a trickle from the pipe will certainly help the telling of a fresher story.

As for trading on the day I was there. Well, the market opened up and ended at an all-time high – modestly Helen hasn’t taken all the credit – and I have one less thing on my bucket list.