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Vienna Stock Exchange: Direct Market

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Wiener Börse: Does the strengthening of the third market really make it easier for start-ups and SMEs to raise capital?

„Direct market“ starts with January 2019

With the change in the law, the regulatory path is clear for the new market segment „direct market“ planned by the Vienna Stock Exchange for small and medium-sized stock corporations. According to the Vienna Stock Exchange, the new market segments „direct market“ and „direct market plus“ are to be launched on 21 January 2019 to replace the current „mid market“.

Easier Access for Startups and SMEs

In order to have access to the „direct market“, a company must be a stock corporation (AG) and, according to the stock exchange, have a number of shareholders in the „low two-digit range“. With the „direct market plus“, further requirements are added, including published annual financial statements, a half-yearly report, the publication of a corporate calendar on the internet and support for the company by a capital market coach.

Legal consequences

As the most frequently used company form in Austria is the GmbH, it is necessary to convert the GmbH into an AG by means of a change of legal form according to § 245 AktG to enter the Vienna Stock Exchange. In the event of a change of legal form, the identity of the company remains unchanged and it merely changes its legal form. Beside of the necessarity of an establishment audit in connection with the change of legal form, as an small AG an annual audit of the financial statements is obligatory.

Our point of view

In principle, this step is to be welcomed, although the scope of application for start-ups will not be large. One problem of stock exchanges for SMEs, however, is generally the lack of liquidity of the listed companies.

Authors: 

Barbara Hölzl, Managing Director and Tax Advisor ECOVIS Austria & David Gloser, Partner, Chartered Accountant and Tax Advisor