Aim stocks turn corner as fewer drop off market

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ONLY 14 firms left the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) in the first three months of the year, the lowest level since the financial crisis struck, according to data from accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young.

The practice said the low level of companies dropping off Aim is a further sign of the improving financial health of British businesses, with just 79 firms leaving the junior stock market in the past 12 months, compared with 257 at the height of the banking crisis.

Laurence Sacker, a partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: “Aim has certainly come through the worst of the financial crisis and the decrease in the number of companies leaving and the decline in departures due to financial stress are both signs of the market’s improving health.”

Yet only nine companies joined Aim in the first quarter, raising £69 million between them, compared with the 12 firms that floated in the final three months of last year, bringing in £270m.

Sacker warned: “It is concerning there seems to be little enthusiasm among small or medium-sized businesses in the UK or internationally to use Aim to support expansion or the kinds of new investments needed if we are to have a sustained recovery.”

But UHY said measures unveiled in the Budget – such as allowing Aim-quoted stocks to be held in individual savings accounts (Isas) and the abolition of stamp duty on trading Aim shares – should draw in more firms and investors.

No Scottish companies floated or delisted in the first quarter.