27 Jun 2017

NZX could scrap small company boards in new structure

2:25 pm on 27 June 2017

The stock exchange looks set to scrap its two small company boards.

NZX signage on a building in Auckland, 2015.

Photo: 123RF

The NZX's NXT and AX boards were designed to attract small companies, with looser compliance rules and cheaper administrative costs.

But neither has been successful; the AX market has been closed to new entrants to encourage small companies to list on the NXT.

NZX said it would review its structure and listing rules after feedback from companies that the present structure was "not effectively meeting the needs" of the smallest listed companies.

"A likely outcome of this review will be to consolidate all NZX's equity markets (NZSX, NZAX and NXT) onto a single board," chief executive Mark Peterson said.

He said the NXT market had not developed as quickly as it would have hoped and it was time to look at finding new ways to get local companies listing on the exchange.

Earlier this year an investment banker, Andrew McDouall of MSL Capital Markets, called for an urgent review of the capital markets to halt a growing trend of local companies listing overseas rather than the New Zealand stock exchange.

Only one company has listed on the NZX main board this year, and the market has been shrinking because of take-overs such as Hellaby Holdings, and company collapses such as Pumpkin Patch and Wynyard Group.

Several other companies have snubbed the New Zealand market and listed on the Australian exchange, which they regard as more liquid and offering a wider range of investors, with other small companies raising money on crowd funding platforms.

The NZX has also been criticised for expanding into investment products and funds management, not overhauling its trading rules and the dominance of a relatively small number of broking firms to the detriment of smaller retail investors.

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