Small Talk: LSE looks to tackle problem of AIM investor relations

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The Independent Online

Pretty much every company under the sun claims to want a "diversified investor base," not least those on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim), who see a varied shareholder register as a distinct feather in the corporate cap.

The problem facing many companies over the last couple of years has been the fact that many institutional backers have eschewed small-caps, while most sensible retail backers have done the same.

Of course, for many companies, this is a distinct problem, but for others it masks a rather bigger issue: that they are generally terrible at maintaining relations with investors.

The London Stock Exchange is aware that this is a problem, and to its credit, the group is moving to address the issue.

Today the LSE is due to publish its best practice guide for investor relations, which aims to be a "practical assistance to companies, whether quoted or considering a stock market flotation, on best practice in investor relations, examining the key principles firms should consider when developing their investor relations strategy".

In English that means companies that reckon a public listing is for them, but don't know how to attract investors, should read it.

The LSE will also heading off around the country to do a series of roadshows and workshops to help the uninitiated.

"The information contained in this guide will support companies' understanding of these processes and the wider dynamics of shareholder engagement, helping the investment community to be more knowledgeable and confident about their current and prospective investments," said Tim Ward, the chief executive of the Quoted Companies Alliance.

SuperGroup goes public on internet

SuperGroup's T-shirts may be for the trendy, young and cool, but even the crustiest old broker – or managing director that fancies a public listing – could learn a thing or two from the company.

SuperGroup said on Friday that it had raised £395m during the institutional stage of its IPO, enough to place the group on the FTSE 250. Today will start the retail part of the deal and in a move that is nearly as stylish as its T-shirts, the company is allowing individual investors to subscribe to the stock via its website. Now, lots of people do silly things on the internet, especially when they've had too much to drink. However, the move, coined as an "E-IPO", will open up the register to a whole range of retail investors that may not otherwise have taken part.

SuperGroup is already making plans for life as a public company. In January it appointed the City sage Peter Bamford as its new chairman.

Mr Bamford has a wealth of experience when it comes to running publicly listed companies, with executive positions at giants such as Vodafone, Tesco and Kingfisher already under his belt.

At Vodafone, where he held senior jobs for nine years, he served as a regional chief executive responsible for the group's operations and investments in nine countries, and as chief marketing officer responsible for the full range of marketing and commercial activities.

He is currently a non-executive of Rentokil Initial.

Desire primed for Falklands oil announcement

It could all kick off in the Falkland Islands at the end of this week.

No, we're not talking about another military scrap over the islands' sovereignty, as in 1982, but according to sources, Thursday or Friday is the first time that the Aim-listed Desire Petroleum could announce that it has found oil in the territorial seas to the north of the Falklands.

The group's exploratory drilling has caused one huge diplomatic spat between Argentina, which claims ownership of the islands, and the UK. Desire has been unusually quiet about the drilling programme, largely because it wants to keep its head below the parapet. However, if the drilling has gone as well as the company dared to believe, we should all learn about it soon. Analysts expect that, realistically, it could take another couple of weeks for the group to tell the market how it has got on.

Desire is drilling in an area that other giants such as Shell tried to find oil in more than a decade ago and left empty-handed, and analysts put the group's chances of success at no more than about 20 per cent.

Earlier this month, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, called on the UK to open discussions with Argentina on the possibility of any future drilling.

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