Hut Group float is no triumph for London

Linda J. Dodson

A total of £1.9bn was raised – £920m for the company coffers and a further £960m to be shared among existing shareholders, including Moulding who pocketed £56m and has been left with a 25pc stake worth £1.6bn.

It also means that a controversial eye-watering bonus plan that promises to propel its founder further into the ranks of the super-rich already looks attainable. He stands to earn as much as £700m if Hut’s market value averages £7.25bn for more than 15 days between now and December 2022.

Meanwhile, the City has pipped Nasdaq in the battle to house one of Europe’s brightest technology prospects at a time when share sales are rarer than a face mask at a Trump rally.

But don’t mistake this for a triumph. In a recent interview, Moulding made it sound like he was doing us all a favour. “We have tried our best to ensure that we do list in the UK” – the rationale being that he would have had even more control over the business across the Atlantic.

Yet it’s not as if the entrepreneur has given up a great deal by selling shares here instead. Moulding will be chairman, chief executive, and landlord to boot, as well as retaining a “founder’s stake” that means he can bat away any hostile takeover bids.

In short, full control still, and a company that contravenes just about every City code going. There are those that argue it is a price worth paying, that it is worth turning a blind eye in a bid to woo the next generation of technology companies but that’s desperately short-sighted.

There is no point in the UK engaging in a race to the bottom. It’s a race with only one loser and it will ultimately harm London’s standing as it begins to resemble the corporate governance Wild West of Silicon Valley.

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