Exchange lets in new sponsors: Solicitors, accountants and banks allowed to act

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The Independent Online
THE LONDON Stock Exchange is allowing 38 firms of solicitors, accountants, banks and other financial advisers to act for the first time as sponsors for companies seeking a listing, writes John Willcock.

Companies that are seeking a listing for the first time, or are carrying out certain other transactions, are required to appoint a sponsor. Previously sponsors had to be members of the Exchange.

Now the Exchange, under its chairman, Sir Andrew Hugh Smith, has broadened eligibility beyond its own 54 members under the new Listing Rules (the Yellow Book), which take effect today.

The firms that can now act as sponsors include Big Six accountants such as KPMG Peat Marwick, Price Waterhouse, Arthur Andersen, Coopers & Lybrand and Touche Ross. They also cover smaller accountancy firms such as BDO Binder Hamlyn, Robson Rhodes and Moore Stephens.

Solicitors, including the City specialists Gouldens, and other financial advisers, such as Charles Fry Securities, have also been included in the sponsors list for the first time.

The Exchange's decision to extend the list arises from pressure brought by professional bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Law Society.

Corporate finance work is seen as a lucrative growth area for accountants and solicitors. Although both these groups claim publicly that they do not wish to compete with merchant banks and stockbrokers, they are increasingly tempted to do so.