Investing platform ill-prepared for Deliveroo flotation flop

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Deliveroo: raw deal

The full cost of Deliveroo’s disastrous flotation will take a while to add up — not least for its own customers.

Deliveroo advertised a £50m share sale via the London Stock Exchange-backed PrimaryBid investor platform to its customer list, promising that the most loyal customers would be given priority. The private punters who signed up are now wearing losses of about 30 per cent, but are unable to trade before April 7, when allocations will be credited to their accounts.

Giving institutions a seven-day advantage on one of London’s biggest ever flotation flops was an embarrassment for PrimaryBid, which seemed ill prepared for the fallout. James Deal, co-founder and chief operating officer, spent Deliveroo’s IPO day on Thursday fielding calls while on holiday in the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.

Wetherspoon: off- message

Tim Martin rarely misses an opportunity to hold forth. The JD Wetherspoon founder has used the stock market’s regulatory newswires twice this year to issue rebuttals to news articles he didn’t like. His chairman’s statement in half-year results last month ran for nearly 4,000 words, riffing on themes including the government’s Covid-19 response (“entirely unscientific”), IFRS 16 accounting standards (“confusing and misleading”), taxation (“makes no sense”) and whether Matthew Winkler, Bloomberg News editor in chief, might be confused with actor Henry Winkler.

Yet the wires were silent when Wetherspoon announced this week an initial £145m upgrade of its estate, plus another £750m over the next decade, that was conditional on the UK economy reopening with no further lockdowns or rule changes.

Having taken advice from corporate broker Investec, Wetherspoon judged that the update was not price-sensitive so published on its corporate website only. “The capital expenditure and number of new pubs were in line with the scenarios previously announced,” Martin explained. “The capex, number of pubs and jobs envisaged are also broadly in line with what have we done in the last decade.”

Highlighting how much Wetherspoon puts into the UK economy is one of Martin’s favourite lobbying tactics. The new twist here was a threat to slash spending unless his demands were met. Directing the message at politicians, but not shareholders hints at an empty threat, however, given the plans attached to Wetherspoon’s two fundraisings over the past 12 months have not made allowances for state blackmail.

Woodford: channel surfing

Is Neil Woodford a convert to remote working? The star fund manager recently chose Marlow Place, a Grade-1 listed Georgian mansion in Buckinghamshire that has been converted into serviced offices, as the base for his post-supernova comeback.

But having last year sold his main home, a £30m farm near Tetbury in the Cotswolds, Woodford is said to have relocated south. Locals report regular sightings around Dorset — more than two hours drive away from the new office and the same distance again from a coastal holiday home in Salcombe, Devon. A spokesman for Woodford declined to comment.

One attraction of Dorset is the easy access by plane and boat to Jersey, where Woodford Capital Partners had planned to base its headquarters. That was before Jersey Financial Services Commission director-general Martin Moloney said the island would not offer Woodford a “back door” to restart his career, telling the FT last month: “Jersey is not the place to come if you are trying to get around UK regulation, or any other regulation for that matter.”

Winklevoss: row bros

The 166th Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford universities on Sunday will have a new sponsor: Gemini, the New York cryptocurrency exchange founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. The crypto twins, themselves Olympic finalists, rowed for the losing Oxford side in the 2010 race.

Gemini takes over sponsorship duties from BNY Mellon, which succeeded business process outsourcer Xchanging in 2012. As part of its backing, Gemini is setting up a £75,000 bursary for “raising the awareness of rowing in under-represented areas of the UK and Ireland”. A third of the money will pay for 36 junior memberships to Fulham Reach Boat Club in London.