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'Everywhere I look private companies are more valuable': Biotech firm C4X becomes latest to quit London stock market

The FTSE 100 dipped on Thursday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)
The FTSE 100 dipped on Thursday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

Biotech firm C4X today became the latest business to abandon the London stock market after is said its future growth would be better secured through private investment.

The Manchester-based business, which has been listed on the AIM market for nearly a decade and in 2022 signed a deal with AstraZeneca worth up to $400 million, said its stock price was not rising commensurate with its business successes.

It said that raising funds on the public markets “would be challenging” and “may not be at a valuation that is acceptable to shareholders or at all.”

C4X CEO Dr Clive Dix told the Standard: “Everywhere I look the private companies are more valuable than the public ones.

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“The UK has one of the best scientific bases in the world still, from out of that spins out many companies including from universities. The venture capital funds are helping them build businesses. But how they now grow is the issue.

“There are lots of funds out there that work in the private sector that like our story and therefore we believe that in the private sector we can grow the business better.”

C4X said there were few benefits and “considerable costs” associated with being a London-listed company, including stock exchange fees, broker fees, legal, insurance and accounting fees.

Money has been flowing out of the London equities at a faster pace than ever, despite government efforts to boost the stock market.

According to Investment Association recent figures UK savers took £14 billion out of UK equities last year, the eighth consecutive year of outflows.

A host of London-listed companies have quit the London Stock Exchange in recent months in search of higher valuations elsewhere. Most have either done so because of a takeover offer from a private equity business or to switch to a listing in New York.

Dr Dix said a New York listing would not have been beneficial for C4X’s growth plans.

“Every stock exchange has its strengths and weaknesses but for New York you have to already be a large business to be successful. Small businesses in biotech seem to be less successful in the public markets.”

C4X shares sunk 28% on news of the delisting plans, in signs of shareholder anxieties over the challenges of exiting the company after changes its corporate structure.