Foreword

  • “AIM is responsible for a £25bn contribution to UK GDP and almost three-quarters of a million jobs in Britain alone”

    Xavier Rolet, CEO, London Stock Exchange Group

When I joined London Stock Exchange Group six years ago, AIM, like other markets around the world, was gritting its teeth in the face of the financial crisis. As some companies left the market, some commentators speculated that the world’s most successful market for growth companies, AIM, would struggle.

We saw things differently. We knew that the market, despite the fall-off in IPOs, was continuing to serve its primary purpose: to provide capital for small and medium-sized growth companies from the UK and around the globe. In the four years that followed, AIM companies used the market to raise more than £16bn in further capital – a lifeline in a storm for many, when other sources of financing were simply unavailable. And as the global economy has returned to health, so too has the IPO market: 2014 was AIM’s fourth-best year on record, with almost £6bn raised through a combination of new and further issues.

Today, AIM boasts companies from more than 100 countries and 40 different sectors, with a combined market capitalisation of more than £70bn. This gives AIM a much broader reach than any growth market worldwide, including South Korea and Canada, the only other two markets of note in this space. More than 3,500 companies have joined AIM in its 20-year history and have raised over £90bn to support their growth and development. That makes AIM, undoubtedly, the most successful public equity market for growth companies anywhere in the world.

As we celebrate AIM’s 20th anniversary, we are taking the opportunity in this landmark report to look not only at how AIM has played a positive role in the corporate lives of thousands of companies, but also how AIM companies have had a significant impact on the wider UK economy.

The Grant Thornton research commissioned for this report presents the clearest picture yet of a market that serves not just its quoted companies and their advisers, but the country as a whole. The figures are exceptional: AIM is responsible for a £25bn contribution to UK GDP and almost threequarters of a million jobs in Britain alone.

AIM was founded on four principles that were just as relevant 20 years ago as they are today. On pages 36 and 37 of this report, we remind readers of the principles that guided AIM’s foundation and supported its ability to weather global financial storms. These capture AIM’s spirit of accessibility for companies and investors of diverse variety and origin, as well as AIM’s capacity for development and evolution; truly tested in these most recent turbulent times.

While we rightly pause to look back proudly on 20 years of AIM, we also look forwards with excitement and optimism. The market’s exceptional contribution as a source of long-term finance for ambitious, innovative companies – all keenly focused on adding new jobs and growth to the real economy – is being recognised. Policymakers of all stripes have voiced their conviction that AIM is an engine of growth and jobs that must be well-oiled to keep driving the British economy forwards.

While this report is produced by London Stock Exchange Group, in reality AIM’s 20th anniversary belongs to the community that has made it possible: companies, advisers, investors, market makers and liquidity providers, brokers and supporters. On behalf of London Stock Exchange Group, thank you. We are very proud of this vibrant growth market and all that it supports. I hope you are too.