Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New York Fights Back in Battle with London to Attract Foreign Listings; Stock Exchange

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New York Fights Back in Battle with London to Attract Foreign Listings; Stock Exchange

Article excerpt

Byline: LAUREN CHAMBLISS

FOR years, the London and New York stock exchanges have waged a gentlemanly battle to lure foreign companies into listing their shares on their respective markets.

In recent months, it appeared London was gaining the upper hand as several of those considering a US listing - including giant reinsurer Benfield - opted for Britain.

Onerous new corporate regulations in the US, and a growing sense the Square Mile is more hospitable to international business than Wall Street, tipped the scale.

New York, however, is not giving up easily. Alarmed by the threat of defections, NYSE chairman Dick Grasso convinced the US Securities and Exchange Commission to exempt foreign companies from some of the more burdensome rules imposed in the wake of America's wave of financial scandals.

Thanks to Grasso's prodding, top executives of foreign companies listed on US exchanges must certify their company statements are accurate, but only once a year with their annual regulatory filings.

US chiefs must do so on a quarterly basis.

Other new regulations were watered down, too, making it easier for foreign entrants to meet US regulatory demands without clashing with requirements in their own country.

Recently, LSE chairman Don Cruickshank said Asian multinationals and European tech firms in particular were becoming more open to the idea of a London-only listing.

For their part, NYSE officials refuse to concede ground to London and continue to navigate the globe in search of firms they believe would prosper in the US.

And this week, they landed a big one - South African phone utility Telkom SA, which opened for trading simultaneously in Johannesburg and New York, raising $500 million (pound sterling310 million).

Before that, it was Bermuda-based insurance giant Endurance. And now there is the prospect of landing Wembley, whose chief executive Nigel Potter said this week that he was considering adding a US presence to the existing London listing.

His motive behind such a move for the UK greyhound tracks operator is that Wembley's business has become increasingly US-orientated since the sale of the legendary London sports stadium, and he wants easier access to US institutional and retail investors, who tend to be kind to gaming stocks. …

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