Investors demand FCA probe into share float advisers after serial IPO failures

 
Tim Wallace
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Martin Wheatley is the head of the FCA
Shareholders want the City watchdog to investigate claims advisers on stock market flotations have put unfair pressure on equities analysts to hike the price put on shares.
City A.M. last month revealed tensions between banks and independent adviser STJ over behaviour ahead of the Saga flotation.
In the wake of a series of poorly performing initial public offerings (IPO), some investment banks want the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to investigate.
The boss of the Wealth Manage­ment Association last night joined the calls for action.
“Investors have to ass­ume the market is acting correctly and that they are operating fairly,” Tim May told City A.M.
He added: “If there is a suspicion that markets are not fair and that banks believe there is evidence, then questions to need to be asked. One of the main roles of the FCA is to make sure markets are working correctly.”
However, there may be other reasons for banks to complain – senior investment bankers are known to be unhappy that independent advisers can receive the same level of fees as the bookrunners.
The bankers argue that advisers do less work selling the shares to investors, and are also unhappy that the same fee is split among fewer workers at the advisory firms, meaning the advisers can be better paid than the bankers.
The FCA is not currently thought to be investigating.
Its handbook for the sector does instruct analysts to avoid the roadshows where investment banks advertise the shares to investors, and to avoid becoming involved in the marketing of the stock, to avoid being unduly influenced.
“We’ve got clear rules that prevent firms or analysts promising issuers favourable research coverage,” said a spokesperson.
He added: “The FCA reviews the controls firms put in place to meet our requirements on an ongoing basis.”

TIMELINE: FLOATS THAT HAVE FLOPPED

PETS AT HOME
Listed at 245p in March. Down 20 per cent at 195.5p on Friday.
AO WORLD
Listed at 285p at the end of February. Down seven per cent at 266p on Friday.
CARD FACTORY
Listed at 225p in April. Down 9.6 per cent to 203.25p on Friday.
SAGA
Listed at 185p in April. Down 6.9 per cent to 172.25p on Friday.

AND THE FLOATS THAT GOT AWAY

FAT FACE
Scrapped plans in May to raise money through a listing due to “equity market conditions”.
WIZZ AIR
Shelved a listing last month due to “market volatility”.
SHELF DRILLING
Cancelled its offering las week due to “challenging public market conditions”.

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