The growth markets have endured a torrid time since the financial crash, but there is now reason to be optimistic.
The past year has seen some very impressive venture capital funding rounds for UK businesses.
Start-ups, particularly in the technology and digital space, have been successful in closing some sizeable amounts.
But what has often stayed under the radar are the growing list of companies putting their faith back in the capital markets, and particularly AIM.
It’s no hidden secret that London’s junior exchange has experienced some testing years, with the number of delistings far outweighing the amount of new admissions.
However, it appears that we may now be at a turning point – a return to the days when businesses generally thought of the stock market as a way to grow, not just cash out.
Figures from Capita point towards a growing pipeline of new listees, driven by larger-scale admissions of the Royal Mail variety.
Entrepreneurs and business builders at the smaller and growth end of the scale need proof points that the capital markets are the place to be. And with the recent FTSE All-Share Index at record highs, and companies like web domain business CentralNic and estate agent Foxtons lining up floatations, these proof points are appearing.
I’ve spoken with a number of businesses over the last year who are either flourishing on AIM, like technology business blur Group, or seeing as the next stage of growth, such as mobile venture MoPowered.
GrowthBusiness parent company Vitesse Media has long produced expansive research on London’s junior market. Its last report on deal activity on AIM, M&A on AIM 2012, revealed that mergers and acquisitions had jumped by £600 million during 2011.
There have also been developments revolving around making a listing a less arduous process. To go alongside a move led by serial entrepreneur and investor Robin Klein to speed up the process, there is evidence that the cost of making the move is also dropping.
The changes to listing will feature reformed rules on free float, eligibility criteria and reporting requirements.
Among the changes, technology firms may be able to reduce the free float, the proportion of shares available to buy, from 25 per cent to 10 per cent.
All in all, it’s been a year of positive news in the UK IPO world. We still need to have a couple more big success stories like AIM powerhouse ASOS, but there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.