Tech companies brave volatile market with IPO comeback

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The Independent Online

The new issues market is set for a renaissance this week when a group of technology companies brave a volatile environment and press ahead with their flotations.

Several companies were forced to postpone floats following the steep falls on the US Nasdaq technology index and the New York Stock Exchange almost two weeks ago. The Easter holidays provided a further incentive to defer.

However, many in the City believe the markets have calmed down sufficiently to allow the launch of initial public offerings once more. Even shares in lastminute.com, the internet booking agent whose shares flopped after floating at the height of the technology boom, have started to recover; lastminute.com stock jumped 17 per cent on Friday alone.

Gareth Lake, a vice-president of Schroders, said: "New issues markets are pretty fickle. Windows of opportunity open and shut very quickly. There's still some volatility out there, but we're confident of restarting."

Internet Business Group, a provider of website design and e-commerce consultancy services, is to list today in a float capitalising it at £21m. The move follows a successful placing with institutions, which closed the week before last at the height of the market's turmoil.

Stockcube, an investment research firm, is to list on Thursday, while Weston Medical, a biotechnology group, is set for a float valuing it at £219m on Friday. Weston will be accompanied by Thompson Intermedia, a website monitoring business, and Cluff Mining, both slated for £30m floats.

The success or otherwise of these issues will be closely watched by Yes Television, the video-on-demand company which was forced to postpone a listing - valuing it at £810m - two weeks ago.

Yes has committed to floating by 22 May, but there has been concern in the City that it may have to scale back the price range of its offering. That range has remained unchanged since it was announced shortly before the stock markets nosedived.

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