London’s stock market “can actually do better than Nasdaq” in some areas, Jeremy Hunt said today, as the government and regulators scramble to boost the appeal of the City amid a drop in public listings.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference today in Manchester, the Chancellor said: “I think the future for the London stock market is to perform the same role in Europe as Nasdaq plays in the US, to be the European technology hub, where high growth businesses go to raise their money from all over Europe, all over the world.”
“I think there are things that we can actually do better than Nasdaq,” Hunt said. “I’m actually very confident we can get there.”
“If you look at the companies that have moved over to Nasdaq for their listings and you look at the actual valuations they’re getting they’re not that different, and some of them actually ended up being a bit of a disappointment,” he said. “I think London’s got a great story to tell.”
Asked how he would encourage more tech firms to list in the UK, he said: “People generally say if you’re looking to raise up to £5m quid, and you’ve got a good idea, you can probably find it, but it’s the next stage, the scale up stage, where people find it harder.
“We need to make the private capital markets work much more effectively to make it easier to raise the money here. That’s the first step towards making it more attractive for them to do their IPOs here.”
Hunt was also asked which tax cut he would prioritise as Tory MPs ramp up their calls to slash the UK’s tax burden.
The Chancellor said: “If I was putting on my finance minister hat, my first priority and I’ve said this many times will be business tax cuts.
“The job of a Conservative government is to make the economy competitive, to make money for all the things we care about for our public services and so on.”
But he insisted that at the moment the state of the public finances was in no position to even have “that ‘what if’ kind of scenario in our minds, because any tax cut would be inflationary”.
He added: “We are midway through a journey to bring inflation right down and it would be absolutely crazy to give people money with tax cuts in one hand and then for them to see all that money taken away by inflation going back up with the other.”