Were 2021 stock market debutantes flyers or flops? 1

Were 2021 stock market debutantes flyers or flops?

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This year has been a record for companies floating on the stock market – with more than 100 firms listing in London. 

Companies stood brave in the face of the pandemic and the number that floated was more than the two previous years combined. 

The boom came despite grim predictions that the City would lose its status as Europe’s premier financial centre after Brexit. 

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Cheers: Darktrace boss Poppy Gustafsson (far right) celebrated but Deliveroo¿s Will Shu (centre) and  Pension Bee¿s Romi Savova (above left) had much to ponder

Cheers: Darktrace boss Poppy Gustafsson (far right) celebrated but Deliveroo’s Will Shu (centre) and  Pension Bee’s Romi Savova (above left) had much to ponder

The flurry of floats created big windfalls for a handful of fortunate entrepreneurs, but not all have delivered a good performance for share buyers. 

Poppy Gustafsson, 39, the chief executive at tech giant Darktrace, has been one of the winners after its shares took off since its listing in April.

But another of the UK’s leading young businesswomen has been less lucky. Shares in Pension Bee, run by 35-yearold former investment banker Romi Savova have dived as investors and fund managers question whether the pensions app will ever turn a profit. 

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More than 50 companies listed in London on the main market, the most in any year since 2017. Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) on the junior AIM market have also dramatically increased, jumping from 16 in 2020 to 55 in 2021, the highest number since 2014. 

Financial services firms topped the rankings, while tech companies also did well as Chancellor Rishi Sunak slashed regulation in a bid to stop entrepreneurs floating their firms in the US. Here are some of the champs – and a few of the chumps. 

WINNERS 

Were 2021 stock market debutantes flyers or flops? 2

BRIDGEPOINT

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Boss: William Jackson 

Age: 58 

Date floated: July 

Up: 37 per cent

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Their predatory ways may have attracted criticism but shares in listed private equity firms have performed well over the past couple of years. 

Bridgepoint has been no different. Its shares soared on their debut and have been moving higher ever since. 

Founded in 2000 by David Shaw and William Jackson after a management buyout from Natwest Equity Partners, Bridgepoint raised £300m at its IPO.

That valued it at £3.7billion at the time, netting multiple millions for its 144 partners and top executives who own 80 per cent. 

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DARKTRACE

Boss: Poppy Gustafsson 

Age: 39 

Date floated: April 

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Up: 64 per cent 

Investors piled into the Cambridge cyber-security company in April, making chief executive Poppy Gustafsson a multi-millionaire overnight. 

It was founded in 2013 by computer scientists and mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, alongside cyber-security specialists from the Government security agency GCHQ. 

Despite its success Gustafsson has been on the attack in recent weeks, saying the firm is not fully appreciated by brokers in London and is better understood by American investors.

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DR. MARTENS 

On the front foot: Dr Martens boots

On the front foot: Dr Martens boots

Boss: Kenny Wilson 

Age: 55 

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Date floated: January 

Up: 12 per cent

This footwear float kicked off multimillion pound windfalls for executives and former staff, along with the Griggs family who bought the rights to manufacture the shoes back in the 1950s. 

The late Max Griggs and his son Stephen owned a 10 stake that was worth £330m. Fans of the chunky boots include model Gigi Hadid and actress Emma Watson. The brand has come a long way since its rebellious roots of Seventies skinheads and the Sex Pistols.

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OXFORD NANOPORE 

Boss: Gordon Sanghera 

Age: 60 

Date floated: September 

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Up: 67 per cent 

The company – which made its name by supplying Covid testing kits to the Government – floated in September with a value of £5billion. Co-founders Gordon Sanghera and Spike Willcocks saw their paper wealth rise to £63m and £30m respectively on the day. 

Oxford Nanopore was spun out of Oxford University in 2005 and specialises in DNA sequencing. 

Its DNA tracking technology can be used to detect diseases and tumours. The firm does this by moving samples through tiny holes – called nanopores – and measuring how they react to electrical currents.

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Its pocket-sized devices have been used in 85 countries to track the evolution of coronavirus.

AUCTION TECHNOLOGY 

Boss: John-Paul Savant 

Age: 51 

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Date floated: February 

Up: 141 per cent

The best performer by some distance, the auction business has reaped the benefits from moving online before the pandemic as national lockdowns forced more people onto the internet. 

The platform connects auction houses with bidders and creates auctions across its arts and antiques, and industrial and commercial goods divisions. 

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More than 2,000 auctioneers have signed up to its global network and they sell more than 12,000 lots a day. 

ATG floated on the London Stock Exchange at 600p a share in February, valuing the company at £600m. 

ATG traces its history back to 1971, when the first edition of the Antiques Trade Gazette went to press. The company still publishes the print title. 

LOSERS

Were 2021 stock market debutantes flyers or flops? 4

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DELIVEROO 

Boss: Will Shu 

Age: 42 

Date floated: April 

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Down: 46 per cent

This much-hyped float was nicknamed Flopperoo when shares sank a stomach-churning 30 per cent after trading opened. Founder Will Shu sold shares worth up to £31m and retained a 6.3 per cent stake valued at up to £530m at the time. It has struggled since amid worries that the business model only works in major city centres. 

PENSION BEE

Boss: Romi Savova 

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Age: 35 

Date floated: April 

Down: 20 per cent 

Founded in 2014 by Romi Savova, the firm is behind a smartphone app that lets people consolidate their pension savings into one pot and manage them digitally, particularly useful for people who have worked at lots of companies during their careers. The £365m float in April gave Savova a jackpot valued at £135m. Since then its shares have plummeted, despite a strong rise in the number of customers, amid doubts that it will ever become profitable. 

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Were 2021 stock market debutantes flyers or flops? 6

VICTORIAN PLUMBING

Boss: Mark Radcliffe 

Age: 42 

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Date floated: June 

Down: 58 per cent 

Victorian was set up by chief executive Mark Radcliffe in his parents’ shed in Southport, Merseyside, just over 20 years ago. 

He scooped £212m during the IPO by offloading a sizeable portion of his 72 per cent stake. But despite an ad campaign featuring Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (pictured above) it has drained investors as demand for sinks, toilets and baths sold via its website has fallen since the end of lockdown – and the share price has gone down the plughole. 

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ALPHAWAVE IP 

Boss: Tony Pialis 

Age: 44 

Date floated: May 

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Down: 49 per cent 

Alphawave’s value fell as much as 24 per cent on the first day of trading. The Canadian semiconductor firm, which licenses intellectual property to chip manufacturers, went public at around £3.1billion but is worth less than half that. 

Founders Tony Pialis, Rajeevan Mahadevan and Jonathan Rogers hold senior roles and crystallised large fortunes. The group was rocked with accusations around lack of transparency when it emerged customer Verisilicon had links to Mahadevan, though the company said it had disclosed everything it needed to.  

MADE.COM 

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Boss: Philippe Chainieux 

Age: 49 

Date floated: June 

Down: 32 per cent

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Made has failed to set the stock market alight despite promising so much – a particular setback for backer Brent Hoberman who was behind Lastminute, which floated and flopped in the 1990s. He is a serial entrepreneur who counts David Cameron and George Osborne among his friends. 

The £775m float in June netted a windfall for Hoberman and fellow founders Ning Li, Chloe Macintosh and Julien Callede but life got tough this month after the trendy online furniture seller revealed that it was suffering severe stock issues.

Were 2021 stock market debutantes flyers or flops? 8

WISE 

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Boss: Kristo Kaarmann (right) 

Age: 41 

Date floated: July 

Down: 8 per cent

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak was keen to persuade it to list in London to prove Britain is a hub for fintech. Its valuation hit £8billion, making founder Kristo Kaarmann a paper billionaire. It was hailed as the UK’s biggest-ever tech float and a major boost for the capital. But doubts over whether its tech is really that cutting-edge compared to mainstream banks have taken a toll. 

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