The role of financial markets in driving business growth

On February 22, experts from the financial and business sectors met at the Barcelona Stock Exchange's revamped trading floor to discuss the role of financial markets in driving business growth.
February 26, 2024

The president of the Barcelona Stock Exchange, Eduardo Ansaldo, opened the event by highlighting the historical importance of the Exchange and went on to emphasize that the market place is always open to companies. He pointed out the importance of SMEs, which represent 95% of the business environment and are fundamental for employment and economic growth. And Catalonia is positioned as a centre of innovation in the transition to a sustainable, green and digital economy. 

Javier Hernani CEO of BME, highlighted the transparency and financing opportunities offered by the stock exchange, not only to large companies, but also to SMEs, whose particularities are addressed by the BME Growth and BME Scaleup segments. Despite the current context of uncertainty, he stressed that we are in a very powerful market with a promising pipeline of listings for the year ahead. 

The first panel, "Stock market financing as a lever for business growth. The new securities markets law and Listing Act", was attended by Beatriz-Alonso Majagranzas, Director of Markets at BME; Marta Noguer, Director of Investor and Shareholder Relations at CaixaBank; Ramón Llorente, Deputy General Manager of Banco Sabadell, and Ángel Benito, Director General of Markets at the CNMV. The panel detailed the advantages of going public, such as visibility, increased financing capacity, access to diverse investors, liquidity and depth of markets, employee retention, the possibility of an up-to-date valuation, transparency, quality standards and improved corporate governance.  

Some of the challenges identified in the White Paper were also identified to boost the competitiveness of the Spanish capital market, such as making the IPO process more flexible, expanding the role of analysts covering SMEs, promoting financial education for retail investors, various tax measures and expanding the value chain through specific markets such as BME Growth and BME Scaleup. 

In terms of regulation, the New Securities Market Law brings with it advances such as the elimination of the requirement of double supervision, by the regulated market operator and the CNMV, opening up opportunities for growth companies, and the approval of the SPACs regime. The European Listing Act,  features a relaxation of the requirements for admission and requirement of prospectuses. 

One of the challenges for the Spanish capital market mentioned is to find its own differential niche in order to attract more investors and promote the IPO culture among all market participants. 

The second panel, "Small and medium-sized companies. New markets and flexibility for sustainable growth", was attended by Jesús González-Nieto, managing director of BME Growth and BME Scaleup; Ernest Pérez-Más, president of Parlem; Jesús Muela, deputy general manager of GVC Gaesco; Iciar Puell, managing director of CaixaBank Equities; Javier Sánchez del Val, director of Equity Capital Markets at Banco Sabadell, and Oriol Sans, senior manager of startups at ACCIÓ. The panellists discussed the importance of BME Growth as the stock market for SMEs and shared experiences of listed companies and their motivations, such as raising capital to grow organically and/or inorganically and gain more visibility, as well as their concerns, such as low liquidity and its direct impact on share prices.  Building a strong investor base and expanding effective communication and information mechanisms were identified as levers to boost liquidity. 

Jesus Muela, deputy general manager of GVC Gaesco, reflected on the need for expert advice to guide companies on the best path and the best financing alternative for each company. Issuers must bear in mind that going public is a project towhich they must be committed, and be clear about their obligations to the market and fulfilla commitment to comply. 

On the other hand, investors look to the stock market for companies that can add value to their portfolios, with a committed management team and a viable business plan for the future. 

Oriol Sans from ACCIÓ also addressed the relevance of the startup ecosystem in Catalonia and how actions are being promoted to support this market niche. 

SIX Group CEO, Jos Dijsselhof, highlighted SIX's contribution to the transformation of the financial sector, through a diversified business model that seeks to improve competitiveness. He mentioned the importance of investment in technology for the growth of tokenized assets and Artificial Intelligence for data analytics. He also stressed the key role of exchanges in the real economy and SIX's commitment to the financial sector in Spain. 

The event was closed with an honorary bell ringing by Natàlia Mas Guix, Minister of Economy and Finance of the Generalitat de Catalunya, who highlighted the importance of having a strong financial sector adapted to the new environment capable of guiding investment to the productive sector, adapting the current economic model to be more sustainable and digital. 

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