CITY WHISPERS: Rule changes in Square Mile causing a stir

Even dedicated City folk could be forgiven for tuning out if the subject of regulation arises. But proposed changes to the listings regime are, if not riveting, then causing a stir.

The shake-up is a bid by the Financial Conduct Authority to make London a more attractive place to float companies after defections and snubs from firms opting for New York over the City.

Some of the changes, which will come into force later this year if approved, have already caught the eye of Quantum, a British candidate for a London float. 

Causing a stir: The shake-up is a bid by the Financial Conduct Authority to make London a more attractive place to float companies

The cyber security group has cited possible amendments such as only needing to float 10 per cent of shares (instead of the usual 25 per cent) as ‘especially beneficial’ for a quickly growing business.

‘We firmly believe London is still one of the world’s most prestigious exchanges, and the right place for us,’ co-founder Peter Malmstrom told Whispers. Three cheers for a bit of patriotism.

 Traditional AGM’s making a comeback?

Annual meetings are not what they used to be. 

Gone are the tea and biscuits and a chance for ordinary shareholders to buttonhole the chief executive now gatherings are moving online. Or are they? 

New research from meetings specialist Lumi shows in-person meetings went up last year, to 15 per cent of the total compared with 12 per cent in 2022. 

True, most are now ‘hybrid’, but that choice has seen attendance levels almost double 2022’s, which is good news. 

Clearly old habits die hard. 

Rio Tinto looking again at Jadar project  

Word on the street is Rio Tinto may finally be making headway with its Serbian lithium mining project Jadar.

Industry insiders say they think the huge project could be back on – more than two years after the authorities revoked Rio’s licences to continue development, which dealt a hefty blow to the miner’s plan to muscle into the race for metals like lithium required to go green.

Rio’s leader Jakob Stausholm met Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic at Davos to discuss reviving Jadar. 

Stausholm described the talks as ‘robust’ while Vucic said they were ‘difficult’.

Theories abound. One is that Serbia is warming to the idea because of the crash in the price of lithium – meaning few other miners would be lining up to take it off Rio’s hands.

Oil and gas bods await Horse Hill ruling 

Oil and gas bods are nervously awaiting a High Court ruling on an obscure legal battle that could have huge ramifications for fossil fuel drilling in the UK.

The Supreme Court is reviewing an appeal by Surrey resident Sarah Finch against the county council, which she argues failed to take into account pollution generated by oil and gas extracted from a site called Horse Hill. 

If successful, it would spell a big change for any project needing environmental impact assessment.

A historic legal victory for a case argued along similar grounds in Norway has given campaigners a lift, even though it has no bearing on English law.

                                                                                                                             Contributor: Patrick Tooher