A tougher time for market entrants

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The Independent Online
The flood of new issues is expected to slow down this year following a record number of flotations in 1994, according to KPMG corporate finance.

Companies making the jump into the public arena this year can expect an increasingly tough time from institutions. Stung by flops in 1994, they are expected to scrutinise investments more closely this year.

Last year 238 companies raised £10.5bn, with the three largest - BSkyB, 3i and Telewest - raising £1.9bn between them. This is more than twice the 1993 figure, when 173 companies (excluding government privatisations) raised £5.2bn.

This year promises a couple of large privatisations, PowerGen and National Power, which may raise up to £10bn.

A number of private companies are already believed to be queuing up for a quote, including Albright & Wilson, the chemicals producer (£600m), Brunner Mond, the soda ash supplier (£250m), Biocompatibles, the biotechnology group (£80m), and Century Inns, the pub operator (£65m).

But, despite these early swallows, summertime is unlikely to return to the new issues market following the exceptional circumstances last year when the buoyant stock market released pent-up demand amongst private companies, KPMG says.

"We are unlikely to see 1995 rivalling 1994 or even 1993 for the number of market debutantes," Neil Austin, KPMG's head of new issues, said.

These companies can expect institutions to adopt a more cautious approach to investment following a few high-profile flops amongst recent new issues during 1994.

"The mood has changed for good," Mr Austin said.