HELSINKI (Reuters) - Eye surgery and optical retail company Silmaasema Oyj on Monday became the latest company to consider an IPO in Helsinki bourse, suggesting listings were picking up in the Finnish economy as it recovers from a decade-long stagnation.
In 2008-2012, Helsinki stock exchange saw only eight companies listing their shares in its main list or the First North marketplace for growth companies - compared to 82 in neighbouring Sweden.
But in recent years, activity has increased and the total number of Helsinki listings since 2013 is 38 so far.
“What we hear from advisor banks is that at the moment there is a lot of activity among companies considering listings,” Henrik Husman, head of Nasdaq Helsinki, told Reuters.
“It’s partly due to the recovering economy, low interest rate environment and companies’ more ambitious growth targets. The administrative burden has also been reduced.”
Following a recent law amendment, companies may skip reporting their first- and third-quarter results if they wish.
The dearth of IPO’s on the Helsinki stock exchange has added to a string of problems in the Finnish economy that has also suffered from a decline of Nokia’s former phone business, recession in neighbouring Russia, falling European paper demand, high labour costs and lack of early funding for startups.
The gross domestic product is seen to grow around 1-2 percent this year and the next, according to the government and banks.
Recent listings include telecom operator DNA, used car retailer Kamux, discount retailer Tokmanni and Next Games, a mobile game company.
The Finnish listing market has a particular problem: dividend tax is much higher for listed companies than for unlisted firms, which is seen keeping lid on new IPOs.
The centre-right government is considering scrapping tax for small dividends, and lowering it for all payouts from firms in the First North market.
“This (listing boom) seems like a very cyclical phenomenon, largely driven by private equity exits... unfortunately we have not seen any political decisions that would develop the listing market,” said strategist Jukka Oksaharju at Nordnet brokerage.
In Silmaasema’s possible listing plan, main owner Intera Partners aims to sell part of its stake and the company would get around 35 million euros of capital.
Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl, editing by Pritha Sarkar