Mar 21, 2023
British Tech Champion Open to Dropping London Listing for Better Markets
(Bloomberg) -- Oxford Nanopore Technologies Plc’s chief executive officer said the UK tech company would consider listing on a foreign exchange, amid growing scrutiny of London’s position as a global financial center.
Gordon Sanghera also said he expected the business to become a takeover target.
“I’m not ruling out any options looking at the way the world has been for the last 18 months,” Sanghera said in an interview. “We will be on the appropriate market to grow the company and if that meant moving to a different exchange, we would consider that.”
Pressure is growing on London’s market after CRH Plc, one of Europe’s biggest building materials companies, said this month that it would shift its main listing to New York, while British tech darling Arm Ltd. also snubbed the City for an upcoming listing.
Oxford Nanopore was hailed as a British success story when the DNA-sequencing company went public in London in September 2021 with a valuation of £3.4 billion ($4.2 billion). But the shares have more than halved since then amid recession fears and a broader tech selloff.
“I don’t think anybody’s happy with the share price, but it is as a result of the economic situation we’re in,” Sanghera said Tuesday, after Oxford Nanopore reported an adjusted Ebitda loss of nearly £79 million for last year. “It’s just unfortunate that there are a lot of headwinds both in terms of commercial adoption and macroeconomic conditions.”
Shares rose 5.3% in late morning trading.
Sanghera said that when the company floated, it undertook a comprehensive review with advisers as to where Oxford Nanopore should list. “It was pretty marginal at that time” between London and Nasdaq, he said. “And given that we are in Oxford — close proximity to London, reporting twice a year versus four times a year — we felt that was the right thing to do.”
Read More: London’s Investment Appeal Is Unraveling as Arm Heads to the US
The company gave Sanghera a special class of shares with extra power to block an unwanted takeover, though that will expire three years after listing.
Oxford Nanopore has provided Covid-19 test kits to the National Health Service, and its sequencing technology was used by researchers to identify and track variants of the virus. More recently, its technology has been used to diagnose the transfer of avian flu into a human, according to Sanghera.
“I think we will be a takeover target because we’re such an attractive company,” Sanghera said. “Right now, we are in London, tin hats on and heads down fighting through this difficult macroeconomic market.”
(Updates with detail on the company’s work in penultimate paragraph, and share price in seventh paragraph.)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.