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London unicorns raise billions for IPOs

written by Bella Palmer
boris-johnson

Tech firms raised twice as much capital for London listings in 2020 as they did in 2018, according to Tech Nation

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he is "immensely proud to lead a government that is so comprehensively committed to supporting the sector" as latest data revealed that British tech firms are raising soaring levels of capital for London IPOs.

Tech Nation, a growth platform for tech companies and leaders that has seen start-ups including Monzo through from very early stage, released its anticipated annual report on Tuesday.

The report found tech firms raised twice as much capital for London listings in 2020 as they did in 2018, and concluded that this signals "the UK’s attractiveness for tech companies and the continued health of the UK late-stage tech ecosystem".

The Government is hoping tech floats will help drive Britain’s recovery. The Chancellor has endorsed recommendations in Lord Hill's new Listing Review for a relaxation on the UK's strict stock market rules that are seen as driving technology companies to float in the US, Asia or Amsterdam.

Deliveroo selected London for a stock market flotation expected to value the company at more than $7 billion, with cybersecurity firm Darktrace expected to announce its own multi-billion pound London IPO. Consumer internet firms executing listings this spring include Trustpilot, whose IPO is expected to value the company at around £1 billion, and follow those of online card retailer Moonpig and The Hut Group.

A total of eight British tech companies floated on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) last year, raising nearly £3.1 billion, the report found. The Hut Group alone raised £1.9 billion.

According to the report, the capital saw a total of £8.7 billion of tech VC investment in the year.

The report stated: In 2020, tech and consumer internet firms raised £7 billion in follow-on capital, enabling them to acquire and invest at scale and speed.

Despite the pandemic, technology companies have been able to use their public listing to raise capital on tight timetables. This shows how listed tech companies are able to draw on investor support to drive their businesses forward, financing ambitious growth strategies with long-term, repeat capital raisings, it stated.

The Prime Minister said: I’m immensely proud to lead a government that is so comprehensively committed to supporting the sector. We’re continuing to invest in your success, and I hope that the winning combination of UK tech and this government will lead us to yet another record-breaking year in 2021.

Tech Nation founding chief executive, Gerard Grech, said: In the face of a major global crisis, it [the tech sector] has not only survived; in many areas, it has boomed. The successes of the past decade have shown what the UK is capable of when policy foresight, investment and a diverse and ambitious pool of talent come together.

London’s ‘unicorn’ count reached 55 in 2020 as six London-based companies, Octopus Energy, Arrival, Cazoo, infobip, Gousto and Hopin, reached the milestone.

A further five London-based unicorns have already been created: Blockchain, PPRO, Touchlight Genetics, Starling Bank and Zego in 2021.

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