AIM chief to hit back at criticisms from US

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The head of the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) will today make an impassioned defence of London's junior market in the wake of an unprecedented attack from a potential US presidential candidate.

Martin Graham, who will speak at the annual AIM conference this afternoon, will voice concerns that "misconceptions and misrepresentations" about the market are gaining too wide a currency thanks to the jealousy of overseas competitors.

He will say: "We've seen AIM's growth and success unsettle some of our overseas competitors, who have responded by directly and indirectly attacking AIM's record in attracting international companies - even where the statistics do not warrant it."

The speech follows recent criticism of the market. Mark Warner, the former Democrat governor of Virginia who has been considering a tilt at the presidency, voiced concerns that the market was setting standards "too low" at a private dinner in London attended by Chris Gibson-Smith, the London Stock Exchange chairman.

Mr Graham will argue that AIM is already undertaking consultations about tightening its rules. He will also point to reports about rising profit warnings on the market which have taken no account of the phenomenal increase in the number of companies listed on AIM. The rate of warnings has barely moved, he will say.

Bob Greifeld, Nasdaq's chief executive, also appeared to question AIM in a speech prior to tabling a hostile £12.43-per-share offer for the LSE. However, the US exchange's bid remains long odds-on to fail with the City bookmaker Cantor Index.

LSE shares closed down 26p at £12.83 yesterday. Sources close to the LSE said they believed this was a good sign. "The shares are reaching the natural level they would trade at if there were no offer," they said.