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Stop talking Britain down: Aviva chief Amanda Blanc issues rallying cry

Time to act: Aviva chief executive Amanda Blanc called on Britain to stand by each other, adding the UK must

Stop talking about Britain: Aviva chief Amanda Blanc issues rallying cry as another UK firm considers listing in New York

One of Britain’s most powerful women in finance has told the country to ‘stop putting yourself down’ after another company said it was considering a New York listing.

Aviva chief executive Amanda Blanc called on Britain to support each other, adding that the UK must “start delivering” by cutting unnecessary regulations.

Its rallying cry comes amid growing concerns over UK capital markets after chipmaker Arm and building materials giant CRH opted for listings in New York last week.

Time to act: Aviva chief executive Amanda Blanc called on Britain to stand by each other, adding the UK must

Time to act: Aviva chief executive Amanda Blanc called on Britain to support each other, adding the UK must ‘start delivering’ cutting unnecessary regulations

The city received another blow when fintech star OakNorth warned it would float its shares in New York instead of London.

Problems for these companies include a lack of access to capital as well as the inability of investors to understand fast-growing technology companies.

But Blanc refused to join in the hysteria, saying: “We want the UK to succeed and I think we should stop putting ourselves down.”

“We have a lot of components in the UK, and we just need to get out of our own way and start delivering some of the things that we said we would do.”

OakNorth is particularly disappointing given that it’s a UK tech hit and may be able to go public as early as this year.

Chief executive Rishi Khosla took aim at Britain’s capital structure, saying it lacked a domestic investor base focused on high-growth technologies.

The comments mark a significant change from previous interviews, in which Khosla had indicated that London was her number one choice.

Concern grew when BSF Enterprise also joined the list, saying it too had submitted an application yesterday to trade its shares in the US alongside its main listing on the main London market.

Despite being valued at just £13million, BSF caused a stir last month when it produced the UK’s first-ever lab-grown pork tenderloin. Leading financiers have lamented the exodus, calling for an overhaul of Britain’s capital markets.

Richard Buxton, fund manager at Jupiter, said a two-decade-old rule requiring companies to keep pension deficits on their balance sheets needed to be scrapped.

He added that he was responsible for “billions of pounds” coming out of UK stocks. Ahead of next week’s budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is under pressure to implement changes that could make it easier for institutional investors to support UK companies.

Research by the Office for National Statistics showed that in 2000, 39% of all shares listed on the London Stock Exchange were owned by UK pension funds and insurers.

But by 2020, that number had dropped to 4%. Buxton told the Financial Times: “The UK, with its world-class universities, has huge opportunities. But we seem unable to finance these companies or retain them to develop in this country.

M&G chief executive Andrea Rossi warned the UK was still suffering from September’s Kwasi Kwarteng mini-budget, when unquantified tax cuts sent bond markets into a spiral.

He said: “Britain has excellent intellectual property, but the problem is that when it needs to take the next step, companies look to American capital.”

He added that “the UK can thrive but it has been affected by the events of autumn 2022”.

Blanc was more optimistic, saying Britain was on the right track, adding that all the country needed was a “little bit of confidence”.

Aviva shares rose 2.7% yesterday after its £2.2bn annual operating profit beat expectations.

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