Top banks step back from AIM

Move coincides with Stock Exchange review of alternative market's advisers

BZW, one of the few blue-chip merchant banks advising on the Alternative Investment Market, has withdrawn from its role as sponsor to AIM flotations in a new blow to the embattled fledgling market.

UBS, the second large bank frequently cited to give an imprimatur of quality to AIM, also said it was not pursuing AIM business actively.

The moves comes as the Stock Exchange starts a review of the suitability of AIM's nominated advisers, who are charged with advising on flotation and making checks on the company and its directors before admission.

The review itself coincides with controversy centering on Gerrard Vivian Gray, the boutique City broker that has floated five AIM companies so far. Of these, two have faced censure for failure to report price-sensitive information.

Another company advised by Gerrard Vivian Gray, Skynet, pulled out of its planned AIM float last week after the Securities and Futures Authority (SFA) confirmed it was looking into the company's share dealings on Ofex, the unregulated share market. Instead, Skynet raised an estimated pounds 3m over the weekend through private investors.

As revealed in last week's Independent on Sunday, Gerrard Vivian Gray is expected to be the subject of disciplinary action by the Stock Exchange as a result of omissions in the admission document for Optical Care (Bermuda) Ltd. Last month Optical Care's chairman, Rupert Galliers-Pratt, accepted a public rebuke from the Exchange for failing to include his 17 former directorships of failed companies. Last week, the company said it was "considering its position" as a nominated adviser.

BZW, meanwhile, says it will keep its nominated adviser rights, but will not be active in the market. Corporate finance director Jeremy Mead played down speculation that it was concerned about its reputation being tarnished by its association with AIM. "It's just not the type of business we are pursuing at the moment," he said.

Simon Thorpe, head of corporate finance for small companies at UBS, said his firm was taking a "toe in the water" attitude to the market and not steering any new companies towards AIM at the moment.

Open criticism was levelled last week by some of the other bigger names at the way in which companies are brought to market. "There are some advisers who are cutting corners so they can offer low fees," said Mark Speller, partner at Coopers & Lybrand Corporate Finance, which has sponsored three AIM floats.

Neill Clerk Capital, which has brought 25 companies to AIM, dismissed the criticism as "sour grapes". "Our belief is we can never do too much due diligence," said Jane Waddell, a director of corporate finance at Neill Clerk.

Another nominated adviser blamed the Stock Exchange for not giving advisers enough guidance over the interpretation of AIM rules. "When we see the fundamental gaps in knowledge that some of the advisers have allowed through, it's shocking," said its corporate finance head, who declined to be named.

AIM's head of regulation, Simon Brickles, said he had not heard complaints from any adviser about standards or about support from the AIM team at the Stock Exchange. "If the kitchen's too hot, they know what to do," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor