High-tech firms get City support

High-tech firms get City support
Alex Mayhew-Smith Support of UK high-tech firms by London’s financial market has blossomed in the last few years, according to a MORI survey. Eighty per cent of 170 high-tech firms surveyed said the London market had become more supportive of the sector in the last five years. “There has been a lot of talk about the UK stock market not being right for high-tech stocks – we have a vibrant high-tech market,” said Martin Wheatley, director of marketing and development at the London Stock Exchange, which commissioned the survey. Compared to the FTSE all share index’s 5.5 per cent growth last year, UK high-tech firms’ share value grew 89 per cent, said Wheatley. However, Dr Peter Williams, chairman of Oxford Instruments, said: “The market is difficult, you have to whet the appetite of investors… Forty per cent of European venture capital is invested in the UK but 20 per cent of that goes to buy-ins and buy-outs.” Williams said that in 1997 the total venture capital raised in California was more than in the whole of the European Union. “There is no magic wand the government can wave to close the gap between the US and the UK.” Changes in capital gains tax could improve the UK situation, said Williams. A second survey – also commissioned by the Exchange – found that the number of analysts dealing with technology stocks in the top 350 companies grew from 185 five years ago to 567 today. MORI findings at a glance Only 24 per cent of firms said London was better than other financial markets in the high-tech sector. Nearly 60 per cent of firms said more specialist high-tech sectors in the FTSE would improve the investment climate. Companies think better understanding of technology is the single most important factor that could improve high-tech investment.


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