Broker to trade some small firms' shares

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The Independent Online
THE STOCKBROKER Smith New Court threw a lifeline to some smaller companies yesterday by announcing it would extend its dealing service to more firms, writes Russell Hotten.

The move, coming after S G Warburg's decision to abandon market-making in more than 350 smaller stocks, will heighten the debate over the value of companies being listed when their shares are seldom traded.

Warburg's withdrawal left about 90 companies with only one market-maker. Unless a second dealer is found these firms will be consigned to the bulletin board - an electronic notice board which tries to match buyers and sellers.

SNC has set up a hot line for companies and yesterday received more than 30 inquiries, according to Anthony Abrahams, managing director of UK equity market- making.

He said he would know by Friday the number of companies in which SNC would make markets, but would not comment on why the firm felt it could succeed where Warburg did not.

He hoped the extension of dealing would help towards a healthy market as well as make the firm some money. 'If, over the next year or two, there is an economic recovery a lot of advisers may tell companies not to go on the market because of the bulletin board,' he said.

Brian Winterflood, managing director of Winterflood Securities, which specialises in making markets in small firms, welcomed the move. 'The bulletin board has not been a great success,' he said.