UK remains European, Italian PR boss says as company floats in London

The UK's place in the European community is "a fact that no referendum could erase", according to the founder of an Italian PR group that was admitted to trading on the London Stock Exchange this morning.

SEC at the London Stock Exchange this morning (Tagliabue in red tie)
SEC at the London Stock Exchange this morning (Tagliabue in red tie)

SEC, Italy's largest independent PR and comms group, was founded in Milan in 1989, and today has 170 staff across various companies including in Germany, Belgium and Spain.

It announced its intention to list on AIM, London's secondary market, days before the referendum in which the UK voted to leave the EU. It also said it was in "advanced talks" to buy a London-based agency. 

The firm today became the first EU firm to list on AIM since the vote, with an investors' note saying that money raised "will be used by the group to execute and integrate acquisitions in new territories, with specific discussions being held with identified businesses in the UK, France and Poland".

The company has raised £3.4m, and placed 12.2 million ordinary shares with investors at a placing price of 151p ($1.98, €1.80), giving it a market capitalisation of approximately £18.5m. Around five per cent of shares have been allocated to staff.

Founder, CEO and controlling shareholder Fiorenzo Tagliabue said at the launch event: "Listing in London is not an arrival for our group, but instead a point of departure." The firm had said in its investor roadshow ahead of listing that it planned to launch in the Americas and Asia in the next two years.

"Our project is very clear – to build a global partnership that acts as a hub of entrepreneurs who focus their activities and strategies on the business and reputation of their clients," he said.

He went on to say: "I hope that today is the first of many days spent in this market. I feel certain that in spite of Brexit, this country even in its specific insular condition fully belongs to the community of Europeans because it grows from the same cultural roots and identity, and this is a fact that no referendum could erase."

Tagliabue also read an email he had received from Giuseppe Sala, the new mayor of Milan who had engaged SEC during his election campaign, which said the listing provided "an example that Italy works".

Vincenzo Celeste, deputy head of mission at the Italian Embassy in London, expressed "appreciation and pride" at the firm having launched at a moment of market volatility, commenting: "When a business project is successful, it can challenge external factors."

Head of AIM Marcus Stuttard recalled email conversations he had had about SEC the day after the EU referendum, saying these had reassured him that the effects of Brexit may not have been as bad as feared. "It was very nice to see business going ahead, and that the whole world had not been put on hold," he said.

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