The second outing of GrowthBusiness’ annual M&A on AIM research was launched in the confines of Paternoster Square this morning as the great and the good of the Alternative Investment Market congregated.
The scene was quite different to that of February when the Occupy London movement had set up camp in the square to protest about the ‘economic inequality’ that existed in the UK.
There are still a few remaining clues that the sit-in took place, with steel barricades still blocking some areas off and a colourful free-to-play piano ensuring that there is at least some vestige of the avant-garde left.
With Barclays the latest in the firing line, big banks and corporates have been lambasted for the role they played in the economic crisis that now sees the Eurozone precariously placed and in dire need of stability.
But our latest research into AIM suggests that the exchange could play a big role in rebuilding the credibility of London’s financial institutions and markets.
M&A on AIM 2012 reveals a market that is getting back to its feet and showing some of the strength which saw IPOs and fundraisings in abundance during the heady years of 2005 to 2007.
The torrent of companies leaving AIM appears has also been stemmed, with net loss for 2011 standing at only 51, a big improvement from 2009 when AIM finished the year with 257 fewer businesses.
M&A activity has posted some solid numbers, with values soaring to nearly £2 billion despite the same number of deals being completed and fewer companies holding on to an AIM listing.
The junior stock exchange is now moving slowly towards a situation where half of its population will be businesses with their main operations conducted outside Britain, a ringing endorsement that London still remains the location of choice for both European and global growth businesses to list.
Forecasts for the year ahead were bullish from those in attendance at the Paternoster Chop House, with many starting to see light at the end of a tunnel which has stretched out for a painfully long time.
While it is perhaps a sign of how the financial world has changed that coffee and croissants, not cocktails and canapés, were the order of the day, one thing remains the same: AIM is putting up a pretty good fight.