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(Teleborsa) – In the last 20 years the admissions to Piazza Affari were 448, while i delisting there were 336, of which 268 on the main price list (EXM, formerly MTA), which earned “only” 185; on the other hand, the non-regulated market for SMEs (EGM, formerly AIM Italia, which now has 174 listed companies) attracted 263 listed companies and saw only 68 cancellations. A trend of constant decline in the number of listed companies from the main list, in the face of strong growth in the unregulated segment. The net balance of listing and delisting is in any case positive and, at the end of 2021, the record threshold of 400 listed companies (407) on Piazza Affari was exceeded, but there was also a change in the profile of the stock market, much more oriented towards small caps.
The delistings have indeed caused a significant loss of capitalization for Piazza Affari, higher than 55 billion dolars in the last 5 years – “eating” almost a quarter of the growth in share prices in the same period. In particular, between 2017 and 2021, 105 broadcasters bid farewell to Piazza Affari. As of December 31, 2021 in Italy the ratio of market capitalization to GDP was 43.8% (vs 218.2% USA; 102.0% UK; 107.6% France; 59.4% Germany). These are the data that emerge from the research “Sliding Doors: the flow of listings and delisting on the Borsa Italiana stock market (2002-2021)”, carried out by the investment bank Intermonte and the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano.
Profiles of companies leaving the stock exchange
In the last 10 years there have been 186 cancellations from Piazza Affari (120 from the main list and 66 from EGM, formerly AIM Italia) and the research has identified four clusters of companies. The first is that of “Defeats“(29% of the group), or of companies delisted because they went bankrupt, suffered financial failure or were excluded from the market due to lack of requirements. The second group (the largest with 30%) is that of”Prey“: these are companies acquired by external parties (often foreign) with the consequent withdrawal of the shares from the market. In 9 cases it is an industrial, banking or insurance group already listed on the Italian Stock Exchange. In other 4 cases the buyer is an unlisted Italian group, while in 23 cases it is a foreign industrial group. There are 14 cases of acquisitions by financial investors, almost always private equity funds, mostly foreign. Le Prede recorded a record flow with 11 delistings in 2021. They are companies characterized by good balance sheet ratios and – especially in the previous 12 months – have generated positive returns.
The third group (not very relevant, 14%) is that of “Renovated“, companies reabsorbed into other listed groups for a logic of internal corporate reorganization, and therefore remained in any case within the perimeter of the stock exchange. The fourth group (which concerns 26% of the sample) is that of”Repent“. These are companies largely present in Piazza Affari for 10 or more years, which have deemed it appropriate to abandon the list by internal decision (or by the will of the controlling parties or on the basis of discretionary strategic considerations). The flow of Repentites has increased over the years. recent years, with 8 cases in 2021, 3 in 2020, 7 in 2019 and 7 in 2018.
The price paid by investors and the market
Looking at the annualized returns obtained by investors who invested in IPOs and then delisted over the past 10 years, it is clear that only the “preys” have given ample satisfaction. In all other cases of delisting, the balance sheet for investors who joined the IPOs is quite disappointing. Then, by analyzing the premiums offered in the takeover bids at the exit from Piazza Affari, it can be seen that the premium offered for the “Repentants” is on average lower (by almost half) than that offered in the external acquisitions of the “Prede”. The controlling parties are in fact much less generous than the external bidders, even more so if we consider that the takeover bid price observed is the final one, which includes any upward revisions.
The use of Piazza Affari as a sliding door
Among the companies that have abandoned Piazza Affari (because they have simply gone badly, or have been acquired by other groups or funds, or have been reabsorbed into other companies that are always listed, or have chosen to return private) in some cases, in particular for those who decided to go out voluntarily, it was done for opportunistic reasonsconsidering therefore Piazza Affari like a sliding door from which to enter and exit for convenience. Considering the fact that several “Pentite” after the delisting show growth in turnover, profits and margins, the abandonment of the list seems an opportunistic maneuver to withdraw one’s shares from the market at a cheap price.
“The final message we get from it is that the stock market listing represents a long-term competitive advantage – commented Guglielmo ManettiCEO of Intermonte – From this point of view, using the IPO as a sliding door can indeed be a strong temptation where there are attractive conditions, but it nullifies numerous future options for the development and enhancement of the company “.
According to Giancarlo Giudici, professor at the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano, it is important “carefully analyze business modelsmaintain a constant relationship between the financial community and entrepreneurs, even more so in times of transition where companies will have to face internal (such as the digital challenge) and external (global megatrends) transformations while remaining competitive “.” Staying listed often pays more in the long term versus more short-term opportunistic strategies, “he added.
(Photo: © Luca Ponti | 123RF)