From now until 6 May 2012, PLUS quoted companies have the opportunity to join Sharemark for free. In taking up the offer, businesses will be able to bypass the initial fee of £1,950 that comes with joining the platform.
While companies deciding to take the move will still be subject to the standard quarterly fee of £1,250, Sharemark does not share PLUS’ requirement for trading companies to possess an adviser.
In a statement relating to its sale released on Friday, PLUS said, ‘The board believes that it is in the best interests of the company to seek a partner which will help it achieve the scale and reach required to maximise value to stakeholders.’
In 2010 PLUS Markets Group decided to overhaul its strategy and senior management team and refocus its efforts back on the UK market after suffering losses of £8.3 million in 2009.
However, the move has proved unfavourable with major shareholder Amari Dhari Investments, a Middle Eastern syndicate which owns a 17 per cent stake, voicing its concerns.
Amari Dhari requested a general meeting in October, calling for Giles Vardey, chairman at PLUS, to step down in favour of former chief executive Simon Brickles. Vardey resigned a month later.
Sophie Murra, manager of Sharemark, comments, ‘Friday’s announcement leaves PLUS quoted companies and their shareholders vulnerable. With no further information it is hard to know whether the ultimate buyer of the group will maintain the various trading products currently being offered.
‘Sharemark and its Primary Fundraising service is designed to give small and medium-sized enterprises access to new investment from registered investors that have specifically expressed an interest in investing in and receiving information on smaller companies looking to raise money.’
PLUS Markets Group declined to comment.