News in View: Exchange unrest leaves floats up in the air

The turmoil between competing European stock exchanges is leaving entrepreneurs with scant choice over which is the most stable exchange to launch their start-up companies.

The turmoil between competing European stock exchanges is leaving entrepreneurs with scant choice over which is the most stable exchange to launch their start-up companies.

Alex van Someren, co-founder and CEO of security specialist, nCipher, claimed it is currently impossible to choose a comfortable place to float on any single equity market. Speaking on this week's News in View, he said: "The Nasdaq is still recovering from the decline in the spring and the European markets do seem to be in a bit of a mess. "Some European markets haven't been very successful. Its not inspiring confidence to make a choice and then find it is being pulled in different directions. It does seem to be counterproductive." Alan Barrell, director of UK venture capitalist, NW Brown Capital Partners, said some European exchanges need to make major changes to produce the rate of trades needed to get IPOs up and running. "The newer markets haven't produced the liquidity that was hoped," Barrell said. But Stellios Haji-Ioannou, founder of low-cost airline easyJet and one of the UK's leading entrepreneurs, remained sanguine about the choice available. "Being a London business we had to list on the London exchange - on the local market where your brand is known." Haji-Ioannou added: "I don't care who owns the exchange provided it is run to the same standard." Peter Cochrane, chief technologist at BT and the founder of over ten high-tech businesses, said the turmoil was affecting the older traditional businesses than young start-ups. He said: "I don't think it's having a serious impact on start-ups. It's going to impact the 50 to 100-year old companies for a while." For many UK companies, including the highly successful chip manufacturer ARM, listing on Nasdaq is seen as the answer. But according to van Someren that is narrow-minded. He said: "European companies need to have European markets that are capable of handling high-tech businesses. I hope as I take my company forward I'll be able to get a mixture of local equity from Europe and also from the US." For the full News in View, click on the video icon at the top of this story. For more video interviews and analysis about the European start-up scene, see silicon.com's European Entrepreneur 2000 special at http://www.silicon.com/ee2000