The ASX is on a mission to attract technology companies from Australia and around the world, as the stock exchange tries to position itself as a “late-stage VC funding market”.
Executive general manager of ASX listings Max Cunningham said that the Australian Stock Exchange is now actively looking to increase the percentage of tech companies listed.
Tech stocks currently make up just over 2 per cent of the companies listed on the ASX.
“Our goal is to bring more investment-grade companies to market to create greater diversity,” Cunningham told ABC News.
“I think it would be great if we can get, over the next decade, a tech cohort in this market in the high-single-digital percentage of the market.”
This is an important part of the ASX’s plans for the future, Cunningham said.
“Tech is the future,” he said. “We’re in the digital age, So this is an important part, a cornerstone of our future, in terms of our position as a global capital market.”
It follows a bad 2018 for publicly-listed Australian tech companies, with the likes of GetSwift and Big Un being surrounded by controversy, and the latter eventually delisting and entering administration.
The ASX is especially looking to entice overseas companies to list in Australia, with US-based payment firm Sezzle launching its IPO in Australia this week.
“The ASX is more accepting of younger tech companies, which we’re at a bit of a younger stage compared to many other tech companies that tend to enter the Nasdaq,” Sezzle CEO Charlie Youakim told ABC News.
“Australia has become a mecca for this type of product and the Australian investor has seen it take hold. They understand how powerful it can be and they already can see what’s happening internationally with it.”
This is exactly the type of company the ASX is looking to attract, Cunningham said.
“ASX is trying to position ourselves as a late-stage VC funding market with companies that have de-risked their model, have proven their revenue and are looking to scale their businesses and potentially go public to provide liquidity for their shareholders and acquisition currency,” he said.
Despite this newfound push, it was recently revealed that the ASX has knocked back nearly 20 per cent of all applications to list since 2016, with 80 rejected in total. This followed new rules being put in place in 2016 amid concerns that early-stage tech companies with little revenue were being allowed to list.
The new rules prevented early-stage companies with market valuation of less than $20 million and with less than $5 million in net tangible assets from listing on the ASX. In the two years before the new rules, 45 percent of the listings on the ASX were by companies with less than $1 million in revenue.
“While we don’t pick winners, we do set the admission rules for companies to help keep the standards of our market high,” ASX CEO Dominic Stevens said in 2016. “That’s the quality control we apply.”