London still works for stock market listings, says We Soda boss

About half of soda ash produced is used to make glass

“London still works” as a place to float a business on the stock exchange, according to the boss of the world’s largest producer of natural soda ash.

We Soda has announced plans to list its shares in the UK, in a move that could value it at up to $7.5bn (£6bn).

The move is being seen as a boost for London’s stock market, after concern it is losing out to overseas rivals.

It would be the country’s biggest flotation so far this year and could see We Soda enter the FTSE 100 index.

According to consultancy EY, the amount raised through share flotations in London fell by 90% last year.

Earlier this year, building materials giant CRH said it would be moving its main share listing from the UK to the US. British microchip designer Arm is to float in the US despite reports that the UK government had lobbied it to choose London.

But We Soda chief executive Alasdair Warren told the BBC’s Today programme it had chosen the UK as it felt the London market was one that would “well understand our business”.

The soda ash produced by We Soda can be found in washing powder detergents, and is also used by companies in the production of goods such as glass. solar panels and batteries for electric vehicles.

As well as soda ash, Mr Warren said the company was also a chemicals producer, “with lots of characteristics which are similar to a lot of the speciality chemicals companies that are listed in London”.

Does it matter where a business chooses to list?

Pension funds, or individual investors, can buy shares whether they are listed in the UK, US or one of the European exchanges.

But a UK listing generates significant ancillary business for a UK financial services industry that still makes up more than 10% of the UK’s entire economy and contributes more than 10% of all taxes paid here.

Accountants, lawyers, financial PR firms and others feed off the fees that UK listings generate.

The exodus has not gone unnoticed by the government. It has been scrambling to try to make the UK a more attractive place for companies to set out their stall.

We Soda already has its headquarters in London and Europe is its biggest market.

Mr Warren added that since the company had launched its flotation plans, “we’ve had almost 300 investors express interest, around half of those are from the UK, but a half of them are from also other countries around the world, including a lot from the US and Europe”.

“So I think that that’s an endorsement of the fact that London still works and we’re very confident we’ll get a good deal done,” he said,

We Soda is owned by Ciner Group, a Turkish industrial conglomerate controlled by billionaire Turgey Ciner.

The flotation is aiming to raise about $800m for the Ciner Group, with part of the proceeds being used to pay down debt.

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the flotation was a “ray of light” for the London market.

However, she added it was “unlikely to lead to a flood of immediate listings due to the still volatile nature of market sentiment”.