A top Financial Conduct Authority official has taken aim at the press for creating a negative “atmosphere” for business in the UK and discouraging firms from floating in London.
Speaking at the City & Financial Conference on a panel yesterday, Clare Cole, director of market oversight at the FCA, said that journalists should do more to boost the environment for businesses in the UK.
“We have representatives of the press here today. We are very negative about our entrepreneurs and our listed issuers,” Cole said, as reported by Bloomberg.
“Another point I think we need to think about is just the atmosphere we create for companies here.”
The comments come as regulators and the London Stock Exchange look to revive Lindon’s listings market after a drop off in floats this year.
Top figures in the City are increasingly pushing back against what they see as an overly negative press narrative in London.
In an interview with City A.M. earlier this month, London Stock Exchange chief Julia Hoggett criticised the media coverage of London’s capital markets slowdown.
“We live in a country of the free press – the media’s got a right to report what they want to report, but I think it’s fair to say that quite often the context is missing,” Hoggett said.
“Where we actually sit in terms of being by any measure the largest in Europe, and consistently so and still so[…] is not your starting point in a lot of the narrative.”
The FCA has been looking to strip back red tape from the market in a bid to encourage more firms to float in London.
Among the proposals tabled by the watchdog are plans to replace its existing ‘standard’ and ‘premium’ listing segments and a move to trim down the prospectus requirements for companies.
The City’s media clash
Cole’s comments reflect a growing frustration toward the press this year after a slew of negative headlines pointing to the malaise gripping London’s capital markets, writes Charlie Conchie.
The IPO drought, however, is reality. The London Stock Exchange slumped below Istanbul and Milan in terms of IPO activity in the first six months of the year, with just seven IPOs raising a total value €656m (£500m).
But according to many, the media themselves are becoming part of the issue. As the FCA consults on what more can be done to boost London’s listing market, City A.M. understands that more and more firms are pointing to the negative atmosphere created by the press.
A report from industry body UK Finance earlier this year also found the “perception of the approach and attitude of the media had an oversized influence when considering whether to join the UK markets”.
Some firms said their approach was to join the UK in ‘stealth mode’ to “avoid the news cycle and potential negative public sentiment.”