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London faces further body blow as another UK blue-chip group mulls US listing

Men walk past a logo outside the London Stock Exchange in the City of London, Tuesday Oct.14, 2008.
Men walk past a logo outside the London Stock Exchange in the City of London, Tuesday Oct.14, 2008. Copyright MATT DUNHAM/AP
Copyright MATT DUNHAM/AP
By Indrabati Lahiri
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UK giant Ashtead Group is considering a move to list its company in the US. It already makes a significant amount of its total revenue there so already has the groundwork laid out for such a shift.

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One of the UK's biggest equipment hire companies, Ashtead Group, is considering removing its business from the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and instead making a move to list in New York, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph.

The group rents out industrial and construction equipment such as excavators, cranes and scaffolding. It also invests in liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants, as well as battery and electric vehicle factories, amongst others. 

Ashtead already makes a significant amount of its total revenue in the US so already has the groundwork laid out for such a shift. Apart from the US, it also has extensive networks and business established in Canada as well, giving it a strong foothold in the North American market as a whole. 

Its subsidiary Sunbelt Rentals is especially valued in the US. Being the second-biggest equipment rental company in the country, it is seen as crucial to the success of the US construction sector. 

Although a final decision has yet to be taken, the group is reportedly looking at the pros and cons of such a shift. Currently, Ashtead Group is worth about £24.6 billion (€29.09 billion). 

If the rumour is true, that would be another blow for what appears to be an ailing UK stock market. 

Ashtead has repeatedly said in recent months that it was not planning to leave the UK. 

CEO Brendan Horgan was reported as saying: "I prefer to focus on growing the business. That is the only sure-fire way to add value for all of our stakeholders, that is what gets me up in the morning and that is our motivation."

Back in March, in the unaudited results for the nine months and third quarter ended 31 January 2024, Horgan said: "Our end markets in North America remain robust with healthy demand, supported in the US by the increasing number of mega projects and recent legislative acts. 

"We are in a position of strength, with the operational flexibility and financial capacity to capitalise on the opportunities arising from these market conditions and ongoing structural changes."

Another blow to the London Stock Exchange

A number of large companies have recently moved from London to list in the US.

These include construction company CRH, which also has extensive business in the US, insulation maker Kingspan, paper company Smurfit Kappa, and gambling giant Flutter Entertainment. 

Oil and gas giant Shell and travel company Tui have also revealed they are considering a US debut. Semi-conductor success story Arm Holdings has also decided to list in the US rather than London.  

Companies are mostly looking to the US stock market for a wider range of investors, greater liquidity and a deeper capital pool. US laws are also relatively more welcoming and relaxed, compared with the recent tightening of environmental and stock market listing laws in the UK and across Europe.

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