Markets, so the cliche goes, hate uncertainty. And there's been plenty of jitters in Britain's equity market on fears of a possible break-up of the United Kingdom.
British stocks had been copping heavy selling ahead of last night's historic referendum on Scottish independence, with US$672 million ($828 million) flowing out of British funds during the first week of September alone, according to research by EPFR Global.
London's FTSE 100 index has gained only 0.5 per cent this year and closed down 0.16 per cent at 6780.9 yesterday.
To compare, the NZX 50 has risen about 9 per cent in the year to date, while Wall Street's S&P 500 has made similar gains.
French bank Societe Generale has warned investors to avoid 20 European stocks - including Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and supermarket operator Tesco - that would take the brunt of a Yes vote.
"A farce." That was how one senior market source described Orion Health's ongoing strategy of staying mum on its sharemarket listing intentions, which have become the worst-kept secret in New Zealand's initial public offer (IPO) pipeline.
Behind the scenes, the Auckland-based developer of medical software has been carrying out pre-IPO marketing with institutional investors on both sides of the Tasman.
But the company is avoiding public comment on the matter and newly appointed chairman, former Fonterra boss Andrew Ferrier, pulled off a masterful performance as he dodged questions on the IPO during a media briefing at Auckland Hospital on Tuesday, just before the annual shareholders' meeting.
Orion, which has been working on its listing plans with investment bankers at First NZ Capital and Deutsche Craigs, will only confirm that an IPO is "one of the options" it is considering for raising capital.
Ferrier, who owns a roughly 1.2 per cent stake in Orion and has been a director of the firm for two years, told reporters there were "plenty of rumours" about a float but he had no public statement to make on the subject.
Funny thing is, the company -- which recently hired public relations agency Senescall Akers, which specialises in IPOs -- probably wouldn't have even held Tuesday's press briefing if it wasn't gearing up to float.
Ferrier's best line came when he was asked how much Orion, which earned revenue of about $150 million in its last financial year, might raise through an IPO.
"It could be anything from zero to something more than that," he said.
The Australian Financial Review has reported that the offer could raise A$100 million.
The source says potential valuations of Orion ranging from $400 million to $800 million are being bandied about.
"They're going to list," he says.
Stock Takes wishes they'd just hurry up and officially announce the damn thing.
TO THE POLLS
It's no secret that the local market would prefer a clear victory by the incumbents in tomorrow's general election.
But with minor parties such as NZ First gaining ground in recent polls, there's a very real possibility of protracted coalition negotiations.
Craigs Investment Partners head of private wealth research Mark Lister says the market would react negatively to NZ First leader Winston Peters becoming the kingmaker in the formation of a new government.
"If you're going into a period where you've got two or three weeks of behind the scenes negotiating, the market doesn't like being in no man's land," Lister says.
With Labour and the Greens promising tough new regulation of the electricity sector, energy stocks - such as Contact Energy, Meridian, Mighty River Power and Genesis Energy - would be some of the hardest hit by an opposition victory and pre-election uncertainty has been weighing on their share prices this week.
However, the NZX Energy Index has rallied by almost 7 per cent this month, suggesting investors aren't too concerned about a sudden swing to the left.
BACK ON TRACK
The swift formation of a new government would help get the IPO train rolling again.
Nine companies went public on the NZX and NZAX between June 24 and August 18, but the IPO action ended with the onset of last month's reporting season and the run-up to the election.
The NZX has also got its hopes pinned on the favourable market conditions it needs to launch its new NXT market, which will operate under a looser disclosure regime and is targeted at fast-growing, small and medium-sized firms.
Hamilton-based app developer MEA Mobile is one of the companies looking to conduct an NXT listing, or possibly a NZAX float, later this year.
Co-founder Rod Macfarlane says the company, which is in the middle of a private capital raising round, is looking to raise up to $4 million through a listing, which would fuel growth.
MEA, whose shareholders include Macfarlane and Sir Stephen Tindall's K1W1 fund, more than doubled its revenue to $3.3 million in its last financial year.
Other potential upcoming listings include aged care operator Oceania Group as well as Hercules, a proposed merger of 19 privately owned New Zealand retirement villages.
APN News & Media has also flagged a possible float of its New Zealand assets, which include the Herald and The Radio Network, while software developer Wherescape is understood to be forging ahead with its listing plans, as is Kiwi jetpack maker Martin Aircraft Company.
Shares in software provider Serko finally clawed their way back above their initial public offer price this week, nearly three months after the company's NZX debut.
The corporate travel booking and expense management technology developer's shares rose 27 per cent between Thursday last week and Monday morning, when they hit a high of $1.11, just above their $1.10 offer price but still below their record high of $1.13 during the first day of trading on June 23.
The company's shares closed up 5c yesterday at $1.09.
So what's been driving the gains?
Last Thursday the Business Herald published comments from Serko chief executive Darrin Grafton about the benefits he expects the company to gain from mobile wallet technology that has been built into the new Apple iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple watch.
Then on Friday the company announced a partnership with Australian software developer Intelligent Travel.
The companies will co-develop products that Serko says will enable customers to manage health and safety risks associated with corporate travel.