Friday, 25 March 2011

LSE Aim Conference 2011

Mark Hoban MP and Marcus Stuttard, Head of AIM
The annual AIM conference, held at The London Stock Exchange, was an excellent opportunity for AIM-quoted companies to stay up to date on the latest developments and trends affecting the market, and to network with peers and key industry figures

This year Abchurch sponsored the event alongside PricewaterhouseCoopers, BlackRock and Religare Capital Markets and met a wide selection of AIM-quoted companies along with investors and members of the small cap community.

Raymond Greaves (Head of Research, Religare) kicked off his presentation by saying: “AIM is an excellent place to be as a growth company but…you must have a good story to tell and execute well and…you need good advisors.”

Our CEO Julian Bosdet guided the CEO and Finance Director delegates through Building Relationships To Attract Investors. The importance of a cohesive approach covering retails investors, Private Client Investment Managers (PCIMs) and institutional investors was picked up well by the audience. With institutions unlikely to take a position through buying from retail investors, PCIMs are a very effective way of packaging up shares currently in retail hands to sell on to larger buyers.

The conference kicked off with a welcome from David Snell, Partner at PwC, who also presented later in the day on ‘Securing AIM’s Future’. The welcome was followed by an introduction delivered by Xavier Rolet, the Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange.

A keynote address delivered by Mark Hoban MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, praised the role AIM plays in supporting growing businesses and the UK economy. He said:

“Small and medium sized business enterprises play a vital role in our economy, providing both jobs and services throughout the UK and beyond. As a government, we are committed to supporting SME’s and have launched a range of initiatives including reform of EIS and VCT, funding for new Enterprise Zones and improving access to credit facilities for smaller companies. These and other projects are all designed to drive growth and innovation which will fuel the continued recovery of the UK economy.”

The afternoon session started with an AIM case study from Matthew Walls CEO of Epistem. This was a success story of AIM from the outset, with significant interest post-float, well-subscribed primary and secondary fund-raisings, and strong growth in share price despite the recent economic turmoil. Next to the stage was Madeleine Cordes of Capita Registrars discussing Corporate Governance for AIM Companies.

The day’s events were wrapped up with the final presentation provided by Ralph Cox, MD of the fund-manager BlackRock, where he went through the dos and don’ts when approaching fund managers; what he likes to see, and what will make him say “no thanks”.

These LSE events are always very educational and insightful for the audiences and it was brilliant to see a great turnout from AIM companies……we look forward to the next one!


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Thursday, 24 March 2011

King Pin 2011

The Abchurch Team joined forces last night to take part in King Pin 2011, the 10 Pin Bowling tournament, organised by Roger Gregory of global full-service lawyers Dorsey &Whitney LLP. A total of six teams from a wide range of business backgrounds gathered together to take on the challenge and compete for the title of King Pin 2011.

The Abchurch team comprised of Julian, Mark, Tania, Claire, Oliver, Joanne, Simone, and Adam and a sterling effort was made by all. New Abchap Adam was by far the star of the Abchurch team with smooth moves on the bowling alley but it was most definitely a team effort. Within some fantastic moments of true sporting talent and the bad bowling displays providing classic entertainment for everyone involved.
The highlight of the evening was Team Abchurch finishing in the top three, although perhaps the greatest disappointment was that we lost out on second place (and therefore being entered into the final Champion’s play off) by just a single point!

The King Pin 2011 title was awarded to a team fielded by Evolution Securities who definitely deserved their title!

A huge thank you to Roger Gregory and to Dorsey and Whitney for organising the event and for inviting us along to take part. We’re looking forward to returning the favour and seeing some of the team at our next Future Faces party!

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Saturday, 12 March 2011

PLC Awards 2011

It’s that time of year again with the much anticipated PLC Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel, and the 2011 Awards Dinner certainly lived up to expectations. Defined as “the” City event of the year it was attended by quoted companies, investment banks, fund managers, analysts and corporate advisors and Abchurch were there in the thick of it.

We hosted a table and our guests included our client Proventec, Analysts and Brokers from Brewin Dolphin, FinnCap, Collins Stewart and Seymour Pierce, law firm Pinsent Masons, BBC News Online and accountants Grant Thornton. The mix of guests and personalities meant the conversation was animated and interesting and went on until late into the evening.

The event was hosted by BBC TV presenter Kate Silverton who presented the awards, and was followed by Ronnie Corbett who provided much amusement! Many congratulations to all the winners on the night, who included The Rank Group plc, Volex Group plc (twice!), Mike Prentis, BlackRock, D S Smith plc, Renishaw plc, SuperGroup plc, Richard Harpin of Homeserve plc, and Domino Printing Sciences plc.

Thank you to all involved in organising another extremely successful and thoroughly enjoyable event; the 25th anniversary of the PLC Awards was certainly one to remember, and we are already looking forward to next year.


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Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A view on: Life Sciences

We are about to welcome a new Abchap into the fold. He is a Life Science specialist and will be joining Abchurch as a Director. So why are we strengthening our Life Sciences team when the sector has struggled for so long? His viewpoint is that Life sciences is coming out of hibernation; “the London and European markets have seen an increase in life sciences financings over recent months and there is also strong and deep venture financing available for the correct companies.” It is certainly true that there has been an increase in interesting medical device companies and small biotechs coming through our doors. The gap that big Pharma is creating by dismantling non-essential internal R&D capabilities is ready to be filled by innovative, nimble companies with unique and interesting products. These are the types of companies that we like to work with.

According to a report in today's Times, the UK has a thriving life sciences industry, with four out of the top six universities in the sector in the UK. 10% of global pharmaceutical spend is in Britain and our academics are second only to the US in publishing research in the field. While we are one of the smallest nations in the EU, two fifths of European biotechs are based here. This success, Ian King notes, is down to close collaboration between industry, academia, the health service and the Government. There is a nod to the City, which has provided finance for industry and encouraged academia to understand the value in its IP and commercialise it. In the past ten years alone, more than 200 companies have been successfully spun out of bioscience departments in the UK, generating revenues of over a billion pounds.

Recently a journalist asked one of our clients – a spin out itself – “why wouldn’t a Pharma company just buy you? It would be cheaper for them in the long run than licensing your products.” And our client replied quite simply that they would be swallowed up; the innovation, the ability to quickly pursue interesting projects, the speed at which R&D can take place in a small, focussed company, would simply be lost and the big companies recognise this. It’s a view that more than one client has expressed and makes it increasingly attractive for the giants to partner with smaller companies to take advantage of their agility. It’s attractive to the small companies too, giving them sales clout and the financial ability to continue to develop their products and technologies, both of which can be extremely costly.
With so much promise, it seems to me a little unfair that Life Sciences has had such a hard time in recent years. Healthcare is – technically – a defensive industry and with advances in the field – from drug discovery and development, to devices and analytical technology – moving as fast as they are, it seems that good communications in the sector are just what the doctor ordered.


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