New UK market for unlisted companies

Stockbroking firm The Share Centre has launched ShareMark, a new market for trading shares in unlisted UK companies. It will compete with OFEX as a potential exit route for venture capital and Enterprise Investment Scheme investments.

The third company planning to list on ShareMark is Goldshore Holdings, which among other services operates Staff Shop, a preferential purchasing and communications programme available to employees of participating companies. It is looking to raise GBP1 million via an open offer, which has been underwritten to the extent of GBP400,000.

In response to the limited access and wide dealing spreads of the London Stock Exchange and OFEX, ShareMark was formed in June 2000 to trade shares in The Share Centre’s parent company, Share plc. ShareMark is based on a periodic auction process, with shares in some companies trading just once every three months. Price and order book information is accessible via the website

Gavin Oldham, ShareMark’s CEO, says: “The idea is not to emulate other markets but to complement them.” He says the market is designed for companies with less liquidity, as continuous trading is not necessarily right for all businesses. In addition to its primary fund raising function, ShareMark will provide a trading and valuation facility for companies, encourage the involvement of institutional investors and allow employees to buy shares in the companies they work for. Oldham said the market is gathering momentum and hopes the number of listed companies will reach double figures this summer.