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City Comment: Blue Prism’s US sale is a rebuke to London — we don’t get tech

·2-min read
The London Stock Exchange  (REUTERS)
The London Stock Exchange (REUTERS)

Blue Prism’s go-private deal is a rebuke to London and should set off alarm bells in the City.

The software company is a homegrown success story that’s selling up and going to the States because it has run out of road in Britain. Chief exec Jason Kingdon says selling to Texas-based Vista Equity Partners will give it greater access to cash — an appalling verdict on UK public markets. The whole point of going public should be easier access to cash when you need it.

Kingdon has been even more strident in the past. He told this paper at the start of the year that British investors didn’t “get” tech and couldn’t tell a good business from a bad one. He threatened to take the company to the US then, pointing out it would be worth far more if listed in New York.

His criticisms will be familiar to anyone involved in tech. Entrepreneurs and investors have been complaining for years that London fund managers simply don’t understand the sector. Just look at the poor reception of Deliveroo and Alphawave IP earlier this year.

Money managers usually retort that many tech firms are loss-making and overvalued. But anyone moaning about profitability and fair valuation should ask themselves: what would you do in Kingdon’s shoes?

UiPath, a close competitor to Blue Prism, was valued at $35 billion at the end of its first day of trading in New York in April. It had revenues of $336 million last year.

Blue Prism had revenues of $192 million in 2020 but is currently valued at just £1.1 billion. UiPath raised more than the company’s entire value in its IPO.

In the circumstances, selling out and going West is common sense.

Tech firms have been the driving force in global stock markets for the last decade and that doesn’t look like changing any time soon. London needs a change of attitude — and fast.

Read More

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British AI pioneer Blue Prism may head to Wall Street because UK investors “don’t understand tech”

Business interview: Don’t fear the march of the robots, says boss of City tech darling Blue Prism

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