January 7, 2013 12:02 am

Lowest number of Aim companies since 2004

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The number of companies listed on Aim is at its lowest level since 2004, but the reason companies are quitting the market has more to do with being taken over than the result of financial distress.

Aim began 2013 with 1,095 companies after a year in which 100 companies delisted and 43 joined.

That net decrease of 57 is lower than the net loss of 71 in 2011. Accountants UHY Hacker Young, which compiled the figures, said 21 of the 100 delisted companies quit because of financial distress or insolvency, compared with 33 in 2011.

The number that left Aim after being acquired was 47, making up 35 per cent of all the companies leaving the market. That is six more than left in 2011 after takeovers.

The biggest listing on Aim was Guernsey fund vehicle Sherborne Investors, which raised £207m in November, followed by Eland Oil & Gas, raising £118m in September.

Other high-profile listings were Rangers Football Club in December and software company WANdisco.

Those companies that left the market included sports retailer JJB Sports after going into administration in September and taxi manufacturer Manganese Bronze Holdings, which called in administrators in October.

Theatre training company Stagecoach Theatre Arts departed Aim after being taken over by Lifeskills Education in May.

Laurence Sacker, of UHY Hacker Young, said: “Aim might now be smaller but it seems to be more perfectly formed. Having shed many of its weaker companies during the recession, the majority of those that are left appear to be in comparatively good shape.”

Fewer companies are moving to another market, Mr Sacker added, a sign of confidence in Aim. Four delisted to transfer elsewhere in 2012, compared with 14 in 2011.

“However, the support we are seeing for existing Aim companies is not matched by equal demand for Aim new issues, and IPO levels remain fairly anaemic,” said Mr Sacker.

“There will need to be significant improvement in IPO activity if Aim is to ensure it can retain its lead as the world’s premier growth market.”

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