Britain to loosen listing rules as Brexit puts London on back foot

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will modernise its listing rules to attract more high-growth company and so-called blank cheque flotations, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said after a government-backed review said London was on the back foot after Brexit.

The London Stock Exchange is facing tougher competition from NYSE and Nasdaq in New York, and from Euronext in Amsterdam since Britain fully left the European Union on Dec. 31.

In a bid to keep London globally competitive, Sunak commissioned a review of listings rules in November. It was led by former European Commissioner Jonathan Hill and published its recommendations on Wednesday.

"I'm keen we move quickly to consult on its recommendations, cementing the UK's reputation at the front of global financial services," Sunak said in a statement.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it will act quickly, where appropriate. It will publish a consultation paper by the summer and seek to make "relevant" rules by late 2021.

The government faces pressure to act and announced a fast-track work visa scheme last week for fintechs after swathes of euro stock and swaps trading left London for Amsterdam and New York.

Nicholas Holmes, head of equity capital markets Ashurst law firm, said there was little in the review that could not have been done before Brexit.

Hill said "the composition of the FTSE index makes clear another challenge: the most significant companies listed in London are either financial or more representative of the 'old economy' than the companies of the future.

He added that there was a sense that the financial sector is on the "back foot" due to Brexit and competition from Amsterdam.

ShareSoc, which campaigns for individual investors, said the high standards of the UK listings market should be preserved and even enhanced.