Venture stock markets could be doing more to attract listings from junior companies, such as curbing the costs of going public and demystifying the process of securing a public listing, suggests a new report from the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) and the Milken Institute published on Tuesday.
The report examines the experience of small companies with venture exchanges around the world and includes input from both public and private companies in Canada, China, India, Jamaica and South Africa. It indicates that although most listed firms say the experience has been beneficial, there's more that venture exchanges could be doing to facilitate listing for small firms.
According to the report, most companies said that the key reasons for going public was to access capital at a lower cost and to position the company for future growth. Other popular reasons include diversifying the firm's shareholder base and enhancing its reputation.
Although most companies said that they would make the decision to list on a venture exchange again, they also found the listing experience worse than expected. In fact, the report says that 75% of Canadian companies said that they would go public again, but that the process of getting listed was worse than they expected.
"Canadian firms reported that the experience of listing was worse than expected for most of the surveyed factors," the report says. "This was particularly pronounced for factors such as ‘time and costs of reforming corporate governance structures' and meeting ongoing listings requirements."
Other complaints with the listings process cited in the report include stock price volatility and a lack of liquidity.
Among firms that are not listed, the report says that the reasons for not listing varied from "concerns about the cost of listing, and meeting regulatory requirements, to not knowing enough about listing to make a decision."
Companies cited a couple of key factors that could make listing more accessible, such as "containing costs; and improving firms' ability to understand and meet the listings requirements," the report notes.
"Targeted and clear communication to prospective listing candidates about the costs and requirements of getting — and staying — listed would better equip them with the information they need to make a well-informed decision," the report says.
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