Foreign investors dominate UK share ownership

Sep 27, 2013
<p>More than half of UK stock market now owned by non-UK investors</p>

For the first time, the majority of London-listed shares by value are owned by foreign investors, research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals. 

At the end of 2012, non-UK investors owned 53.2 percent of UK shares by value, at a value of £935.1 bn ($1.5 tn). This figure has climbed from less than 10 percent 50 years ago to 30.7 percent by 1998, and to more than half today, the ONS says.

‘The proportion of UK quoted shares (in terms of value) owned by ‘rest of the world’ investors has increased substantially since 1963,’ reads the report. ‘The large increases since 1994 partly reflect the growth in international mergers and acquisitions, and the [increasing] ease of overseas residents to invest in UK shares.’

North Americans are by far the biggest investors in UK stocks, with £451.9 bn in London-listed companies, followed by Europeans with £241.3 bn and Asian investors with £94.8 bn. After foreign investors, UK individuals are the biggest owners of the country’s listed companies. 

‘UK individuals owned an estimated 10.7 percent by value at the end of 2012, picking up slightly from the record low in 2010 and halting the downward trend seen in recent years,’ says the ONS.

Following UK individuals are unit trusts at 9.6 percent and other financial institutions at 6.6 percent, a percentage that is ‘significantly down’ on 2010 levels. 

Declines are also seen elsewhere: insurance companies held an estimated 6.2 percent by value at the end of 2012, ‘continuing the fall seen in recent years’, while pension funds held an estimated 4.7 percent, says the ONS. This is down from 5.6 percent in 2010, and ‘significantly lower than the levels seen in recent years.’

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