Small companies stock exchange PLUS Markets Group seeks buyer after turbulent year
Sharemark quick to put itself forward as alternative exchange for smaller companies
PLUS Markets Group, the London-based stock exchange which has offered a platform to hundreds of small companies, is to open a formal sales process for the entirety of its share capital.
Following a period of turbulence which has seen the company’s share price fall 50% in just 12 months, PLUS says it now wants to “identify appropriate potential partners for the company, or major strategic investors”. It is thought that the company, which itself is listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and in late 2006 raised £25m in a share placing to expand its trading and quotation services, is seeking a new injection of funding, with a view to capitalising on new regulations and technologies over the coming months. Formerly known as OFEX, PLUS Markets Group gained stock exchange status in 2007. Its market liquidity and planned growth has failed to materialise amid the economic downturn. 160 companies remain listed on PLUS, including Quercus Publishing – publisher of Steig Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, Arsenal Football Club, and brewers Adnams Plc. Following the announcement, the manager of independent trading platform Sharemark put her exchange forward as an alternative to PLUS, promising free admission for all PLUS-quoted companies until early May. Sophie Murra said: “Traditionally PLUS Markets has provided a solution for smaller companies requiring access to capital and for companies whose shares are less liquid than those of larger, AIM-traded stocks. “At Sharemark we are an established and cost-effective trading alternative that can assist companies with an ongoing requirement for a stable market and fundraising solution specifically designed for less liquid stocks.”