UK to unveil new measures to support financial sector

LONDON (AFP): Finance minister Jeremy Hunt is on Monday due to announce new measures to support Britain’s powerful financial sector, seeking to make the UK the “most innovative and competitive” financial centre in the world.

Hunt will set out “how Britain’s financial services will support the drive for long-term sustainable growth across the country”, the UK Treasury said ahead of his speech at London’s Mansion House in the City of London financial district.

“I want to lay out plans to enable our financial services sector to increase returns for pensioners, improve outcomes for investors and unlock capital for our growth businesses,” Hunt is expected to tell an audience of CEOs and leaders from the sector.

The new measures will in particular seek to make the UK stock market more attractive to firms looking to take their businesses public.

The number of companies conducting IPOs in London last year plunged to around 40 listings compared to more than 100 in 2021.

Hunt, whose official title is chancellor of the exchequer, will lay out plans for an “entirely new kind of stock market” that will allow private companies to access capital markets without floating.

He is also expected to detail plans to simplify the rules for buying and selling shares.

“These common-sense changes are grasping our newfound Brexit freedoms to simplify the rulebook — making it easier than ever for firms to research, raise funds, and float their business,” Hunt said.

The UK government late last year announced a package of measures to stimulate growth in the financial sector, in particular relaxing certain curbs that were introduced after the 2008 financial crisis.

But despite post-Brexit reforms, London has lost its crown as the top European trading hub following Britain’s departure from the EU in early 2021.