ALEX BRUMMER: Deliveroo float is a great win for the City

We don’t associate government initiatives on the City with speed, as anyone who has followed the audit reform saga would testify.

So it is terrific to see Deliveroo unveil its intention to float in London just hours after Rishi Sunak’s budget.

The report by Lord Hill on bringing tech-based initial public offerings to the London Stock Exchange looks to have galvanised those involved to act smartly.

London calling: The key for Deliveroo in choosing the City was gaining an easing of listing rules for dual class of shares

Founder Will Shu is anxious to capture the moment. The pandemic has been a boon to online hospitality and similar listings in New York, such as Door Dash, have attracted generous premiums.

Indeed, Shu was under strong pressure from investment bankers pitching for the mandates to choose New York over London. 

The success of the standard listing for beauty and fitness site The Hut Group (THG), now valued at close to £7billion, and online cards and gifts firm Moonpig, shows what can be achieved. 

In Deliveroo territory, Just Eat Takeaway, based in the Netherlands but quoted in London, has attained a valuation of a shade under £10billion and has been able to use its quoted base to grow globally.

Deliveroo was valued at £5billion at its last fund raising but the latest price projections suggest as much as £7billion.

The key for Deliveroo in choosing London was gaining an easing of listing rules for dual class of shares. Shu can continue to innovate and expand without fear of premature takeover. 

The authorities are keen to capture Deliveroo for the City after a woeful IPO experience as a result of post-referendum uncertainty.

The path is being cleared with a sunset clause which would fade the two-tier shareholding structure after three years.

The food-to-your-door concern could disarm governance mavens by making its offer more accessible to shareholders other than privileged investment banks and key clients. 

As a company with consumer name recognition, it should make provision for private investors using technology championed by London based start-up Primary Bid. 

It also needs to make sure that all potential investors have sight of the prospectus. Too often in the recent past, release of these treasure troves of information is held back until the eve of the first trades.

That cannot be acceptable.

Blanc cheque

Amanda Blanc is tunnelling out of the EU more smoothly than the UK’s exit from the grasp of Brussels.

There is an important difference: Aviva is a tiddler among insurance giants on the Continent, and Britain a top-five country among a long tail of smaller nations.

Along the way, the newish Aviva chief executive is picking up lashings of cash. She has scooped £2.8billion from its Frexit and £1billion or so from three separate Italian disposals. 

Blanc’s strategy is to narrow Aviva’s focus by concentrating on core markets in the UK, Ireland and Canada. 

There is indecision about what to do in China. The impressive expansion of Prudential in the Pacific tells of the huge opportunity that could still offer.

The likelihood that some of the cash harvested could be returned to investors has cheered up the insurer’s share price. 

Moreover, there is room for Blanc to carry on the work begun by her predecessor but one, Mark Wilson, in embracing technology. 

The march of upstart fintech potentially is the biggest competition threat in all areas of finance, from payment systems to asset management. 

The contactless £100 cash limit in the Budget is part of a journey likely to undermine traditional banking.

The real issue for Blanc is how sensible is it for Aviva to put most of its eggs in the UK basket. Once the excitement of disposals is past, and new platforms embraced, the opportunities to grow become limited.

Britain has been a home to insurance for centuries, but what has been built over time can be dismantled in hours, as when Stephen Hester sold Royal Sun Alliance (RSA) in the middle of the pandemic. 

Closing in on itself cannot be the right option for Aviva. It needs to embrace the Asian opportunity.

Whisky galore

Diageo boss Ivan Menezes was quickly on hand to applaud the end of the Scotch whisky war with Washington, a legacy of Trump-era trade aggression.

The trans-Atlantic truce was made possible by Britain’s newly independent trade policy potentially paving the way for the UK-US trade deal before fast-track Congressional authority runs out in July.

Next on our supermarket shelves? Chlorinated chicken.

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