Derek Pain: AIM's new competitor a Plus point for market
No Pain, No Gain
Saturday 05 September 2009
When I discussed AIM last week, I was unaware that the London Stock Exchange's junior share market was about to face an eruption of new – and formidable – competition.
Earlier this year, the rival Plus share trading platform won the right to deal in all AIM shares. But it delayed utilising its new strength until towards the end of last month. Previously, only companies that agreed a Plus involvement were traded. Even those that object to such an expansion of share trading are now forced to tolerate what was once regarded as a very fringe market.
Until this latest manoeuvre, the Plus AIM trades were confined to around 90 constituents, but its new power must represent the most serious challenge AIM has yet faced. Undoubtedly, Plus will draw trades from a share market that is already under pressure.
Last week I rejected suggestions that the LSE's junior market was a spent force. But, quite clearly, the Plus intervention is going to make it even harder for AIM to recapture past glories.
Since its launch 14 years ago, AIM has attracted more than 3,000 companies – many from overseas. Delistings and bankruptcies, as well as corporate activity and elevations to the main market, have reduced membership. It is now around 1,450. At the end of 2007 1,694 constituents were embraced and, with some exceptions, share trading was fairly buoyant.
It is impossible to estimate just how much trading Plus could capture as its involvement is in its infancy. None the less, I decided to conduct a little test over a few trading days.
Two AIM stocks (constituents of the no pain, no gain portfolio) were examined. One attracted very little Plus interest. The other, with a turnover that regularly tops three million shares, experienced a far more significant response. Indeed, on one day, Plus's volume exceeded AIM's by around 400,000 shares but, overall, it accounted for perhaps nearly a third of trading.
Plus, then known as Ofex (Off Exchange), was set up as a fringe market by stockbroker John Jenkins when the LSE abandoned matched bargains. Many unquoted companies that frequently participated in the obscure matched bargains facility, such as brewer Shepherd Neame, were happy to embrace the new platform. Jenkins also directed his market towards young, small businesses, many of them in need of cash.
But times move on. The Jenkins family bowed out with its stockbroking firm, JP Jenkins, is now part of Tom Winnifrith's financial group, Rivington Street Holdings. A clutch of City firms supported new Plus management, led by former AIM chief, Simon Brickles, and Ofex became Plus.
Expansion was underway. The fringe market tag has became increasingly unrepresentative although small and mid caps remain its main focus.
Plus clashed on a number of occasions with the LSE. One acrimonious point of contact was the Plus ambition to deal in all AIM shares. But the upstart market also had its sights on other horizons and it now offers dealing facilities in some 9,000 stocks. Even before AIM's arrival, fully listed shares, such as Barclays, could be traded. Around 5,000 European stocks are now tradable although this facility has still to be fully exploited. In addition to this share catalogue is the original Plus-quoted section, which houses around 200 constitutes, including Shepherd Neame.
The upstart market, which has, like the LSE, Recognised Investment Exchange status, can offer stockbrokers – and by implication their clients – certain cost advantages.
In some respects, particularly for small deals, it appears to have some advantage and it is argued that the Plus jobbing system, regarded as old fashioned in many quarters, is more suitable for smaller trades than the electronic order book. Competition between the two markets could provoke some interesting arbitraging if the nimble-footed can exploit minor price differences.
It is very much a David and Goliath confrontation. Plus is capitalised at £20.6m. The LSE commands a valuation of £2.2bn. And Plus is still loss making, incurring a £10.2m deficit in its last year.
The little'un's shares are traded on AIM with a mirror image on Plus. When I checked, much of its share trading occurred on Plus.
I support AIM and Plus. The two markets are vital parts of the share-dealing and cash-raising environment. The portfolio embraces nine AIM shares and just one Plus – English Wines Group.
Money roundup video: It's getting harder to sort out a mortgage
10 tips for taking out a personal loan
Women born in 1950s facing severe financial hardship over pensions could have fates changed by Ros Altmann - should she choose to help
Is it really that bad in the bond market?
Simon Read: You're guilty until proven innocent when HMRC sends in the tax credit detectives
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 4 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...
£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...
£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...
Day In a Page
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.
Located in the University area, this semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors - there's even a rear garden and off-road parking too.
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool