'Quarantine' call for City listings from overseas

Time is needed to adapt, says troubled mining group ENRC as it is taken private

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The controversial mining group ENRC has claimed that foreign companies listing in UK should be given a "quarantine" period to adapt to life on the City's main market, the London Stock Exchange.

The company, which is being taken private by its founders and the Kazakhstan government for $4.6bn (£2.8bn), said it was not given enough time to evolve from a "private, Kazakh-based company" into a fully fledged public group.

The disclosure was made in a submission to the Committee for Business, Innovation and Skills and is likely to raise eyebrows across the City because of the turmoil suffered by investors, including the big tracker funds and index managers who invest billions of pounds of pension fund money.

Since listing in 2007, ENRC has been beset by acrimonious boardroom rows, corruption investigations and a poorly timed acquisition spree. The group is also suing another former director, Sir Paul Judge, over accusations that he leaked confidential information to the media, a claim that the City grandee vigorously denies.

"We respectfully suggest that if London wishes to maintain a prominent role in attracting future London listings by foreign companies, it should consider introducing a quarantine period – similar to the role played by AIM – to allow a company to evolve with a degree of reputational protection. ENRC would be happy to work with the committee to develop this idea," the company said.

"Foreign companies will observe the lengths that ENRC has gone to in order to comply, and the significant financial investment that has been made and then observe how the company has been scrutinised."

The committee is currently investigating the extractive industries sector. This includes a look at the standard of corporate governance throughout the sector.

The Financial Conduct Authority is already considering separate changes to the UK listing rules, particularly for companies like ENRC that have controlling shareholders. Meanwhile, the Association of British Insurers, whose members manage nearly $3 trillion of assets, has called for more protection for minority investors.

"The UK has relatively modest domestic extractive industries operations, and therefore mainly derives its reputation in the extractive industries sector by marketing itself as a worldwide centre for the advice and financing for extractive industries companies," ENRC added.

"London earns significant income from these foreign companies and from the domestic employment that they generate in the UK. Their presence is of net financial benefit to the UK."