The chief of digital lender Atom Bank has publicly thrown his weight behind London as its home for an eventual initial public offering, in a boon to the City as it looks to tempt in more tech listings.
The float of Durham-based Atom, which was linked with a New York listing last year, has been a topic of speculation in the Square Mile as policymakers look to convince more homegrown tech firms to come to market.
Atom has shelved plans for an IPO until 2024 or 2025 due to market volatility, but in an interview with City A.M. due to be published tomorrow, chief Mark Mullen gave his clearest backing yet that London would be home for the firm when it goes public.
“We are focused on putting the bank in a position where we can list and our assumption, our plan, is to do so in the UK, in London,” Mullen said.
He added that “there need be no ambiguity whatsoever” over the firm’s “default assumption” that it will float in the capital.
“The only plan we’ve ever made ourselves would be based upon listing in London,” he said.
The comments mark the clearest backing of a London listing for the firm and put clear distance between reported plans to list the firm in New York, where it was said to be mulling a merger with a listed acquisition vehicle last year. Tech firms are typically considered to fetch higher valuations from a deeper pool of potential investors on New York’s markets.
However, Mullen admitted the matter was not yet “settled” and the firm has investors that “come knocking on the door at times with different ideas”.
Atom has been naked in its ambition to go public and said a £30m funding round in November, which valued the firm at £460m, would help fuel its ambitions of an IPO. The firm, which introduced a four day working week for staff last year, told City A.M. it is optimistic it will report its first full year of operating profits in March after notching three straight quarters in the black.
A London listing for Atom would be a major coup for the City as it battles with New York to win over more tech businesses.
The Treasury and City regulators have been looking to overhaul listing rules to make London a more attractive place for tech businesses, with the government-commissioned Hill Review and Austin Review including proposing a number of measures favourable to high growth companies.
The Financial Conduct Authority also published a paper in May last year detailing plans to rejig listing rules to “attract more high quality, growth companies and give investors greater opportunities”.
The government has also thrown its weight behind efforts to win London more tech listings. Both Boris Johnson, when prime minister, and Rishi Sunak have backed efforts to woo Cambridge-based chipmaker Arm into a London listing after its owner, the Japanese investment giant Softbank, said it favoured Nasdaq exchange in New York as the natural home for the firm.