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London markets are broken and closed, says pharma boss

Ali Mortazavi
Chief executive Ali Mortazivi says delisting the company comes with 'sadness and great worry' for UK markets

A British pharmaceuticals company has criticised London’s stock markets for being “completely broken and closed” after announcing plans to de-list and pursue a potential flotation in New York.

Ali Mortazavi, chief executive of E-therapeutics, said “urgent reform and action was needed” after accusing British investors of failing to back innovative companies.

E-therapeutics said it would de-list, 17 years after floating on Aim, London’s junior market, as part of a £29m fundraising from existing investors.

It said it would “explore the option of listing on [New York’s] Nasdaq in due course”.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Mortazavi said: “My overriding feeling in delisting [the company] is one of sadness and great worry.

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“To be clear, the UK markets are not just illiquid, they’re completely broken and closed. The situation is worse for small growth companies (in particular biotech) but even sizeable companies such as Shell and many others are saying the same thing.”

Shell’s chief executive Wael Sawan said on April 8 that the oil giant was exploring “all options” and that the company was “undervalued” in London.

E-therapeutics is joining a stampede of pharmaceutical companies quitting Aim, following Redx Pharma and C4X Discovery which have announced plans to leave the market in the last month.

The company aims to use artificial intelligence and large amounts of data to help develop new medicines. It has worked with companies including Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceuticals giant behind the Wegovy weight loss treatment.

It had sales of £200,000 in the six months to the end of July, and a £5.6m loss.

Mr Mortazavi said: “Another consistent message from UK institutions has been that they only invest in profitable companies. It’s shocking to me that capital allocators exclude emerging tech/biotech companies from their portfolios who are all by definition loss making.”

He said the company had sought to raise cash from investors while on Aim but that many had said backing a private company would be preferable.

Mr Mortazavi was previously the chief executive of Silence Therapeutics, which delisted from Aim in 2021 and now has a market value of close to $1bn (£800m) on the Nasdaq.

He said the London markets had suffered a “very noticeable downturn in the last year and a half” and “that disparity [with the US] has become so wide”.