Europe’s wealth of ­­markets

The Euronext exchanges in Brussels, Paris and Lisbon offer a wealth of opportunities for UK investors keen to diversify into new areas.

Like the Amsterdam exchange, they became part of Euronext fairly recently, but all have much longer histories as individual markets.

Euronext Brussels, for example, was formerly the Brussels Stock Exchange, founded by Napoleonic decree in 1801, while Euronext Paris was formerly the Paris Bourse.

Euronext Lisbon began its life in downtown Lisbon in 1769, later becoming known as the Bolsa de Valores de Lisboa. Its path was interrupted by the military coup on 25 April 1974, after which the National Salvation Junta closed it down.

However, the market was reopened a couple of years later, and was bought by Euronext in 2002.

There are some differences between these markets and the London Stock Exchange, but they are generally run along the same lines.

The French equities market, for example, is divided into three sections.

The Premier Marché, formerly called the Official List, includes large French and foreign companies, and most bond issues. This would therefore be the French equivalent of the FTSE 100.

The Second Marché lists medium-sized companies, making it closer to the FTSE 250, while Nouveau Marché – which is similar to London’s AIM – lists fast-growing start up companies seeking capital to finance expansion, linked to Euro.nm, the European equity growth market.

There is also a fourth, non-regulated market called Marché Libre for transactions in securities not listed on the other three markets.

When it comes to the number of companies listed on these markets, the latest data for Brussels indicates that it lists 128 domestic companies and 36 foreign ones, while there are 572 French companies listed on European Euronext exchanges.

The largest of these is French energy company Total. But as ever, the household names are not the only ones to watch.

Media group Lagardère, for example, operates in more than 40 countries and includes a book publisher, a magazine and audiovisual publisher and an arm specialising in sport and entertainment. Based in Monaco and listed on Euronext Paris, its brands include the radio station Europe 1 and news and entertainment website Digitalspy.co.uk.