A number of firms are putting stock market flotation plans on hold ahead of the Scottish referendum, fearing market turmoil could throw the initial public offerings (IPOs) off track.
Reports of deals being delayed comes as a group of polls showed the No campaign edging ahead and Prime Minister David Cameron headed to Aberdeen today to deliver a key speech aimed at the 500,000 Scottish voters yet to make up their minds.
Yesterday, first minister Alex Salmond appeared to promise he would not call a second referendum if the Yes campaign loses on Thursday. However he did not rule out another vote if there is a change of leader.
Businesses had previously thought Scottish voters would reject independence by a comfortable margin.
The RAC and British Car Auctions have both cancelled investor meetings this week, delaying their IPO plans, City A.M. was told yesterday. “Why risk things now when everything’s so uncertain?” said one adviser. Challenger bank Aldermore has postponed its float – the lender had planned to announce its IPO this Wednesday, according to Sky News.
UK equity capital markets have essentially been frozen with fear over the vote. The markets traditionally slow down over the summer, before roaring back into life in the autumn.
But while banks across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) have picked up again in September, market activity in London has remained flat.
Figures from Dealogic show just one equity capital markets deal worth more than $50m (£30.8m) priced in the UK last week, an accelerated book-build worth just $81m. By contrast the rest of EMEA saw 20 deals priced, raising a total of $3.92bn. “In the primary markets people are sitting on their hands and waiting to see what happens,” one broker said.
Cameron will warn there is no going back from a Yes vote. “This is a once-and-for-all decision. If Scotland votes Yes, the UK will split, and we will go our separate ways forever,” he will say.
Tim Wallace, Kate McCann