Receive free YouGov PLC updates

YouGov, the UK-listed pollster and data analytics firm, is weighing up a US listing in what would be the latest blow to the London Stock Exchange.

Stephan Shakespeare, who this month moved to become chair of the group he founded with former chancellor Nadhim Zahawi in 2000, said the group was considering moving its listing following a recent acquisition that has bolstered its operations. 

“I think the markets are better at supporting companies like ours there,” he told the Financial Times.

He said that the company could move its primary listing to the US or establish a secondary listing. Shakespeare, with his family, owns about 8 per cent of the company, which floated in London in 2005 and is valued at more than £1bn.

The US is the largest market for YouGov, where it works with US tech groups and consumer brands as well as providing detailed political coverage.

“[The US] spends the most on marketing data; they are the most savvy. It is a natural base,” he said.

If it decides to shift its listing to the US, YouGov will join the growing number of British companies seeking higher valuations and deeper pools of capital in the US.

Shakespeare said that the company had previously been too small to consider moving to the larger US market but that the acquisition of the consumer panel business of German market research group GfK for €315mn this year had made the move more viable.

“Until recently, we’ve been too small. With the recent acquisition, that’s increased our size by 50 per cent overnight. I do feel that we could be introduced to a bigger market, [which] would be helpful.”

Although now bigger in the US, the company is still closely associated with British politics, given its well-regarded polling of voting intentions. The company took its name in reaction to a policy by former prime minister Tony Blair in the late 1990s and was based in Westminster for many years. 

YouGov carries out large “panels” of consumer opinion and behaviour that is used as the raw data to provide insights to companies on how their brands and advertising are perceived. 

The company has sought to be both bigger in scale — larger panels in more countries — as well as in depth of analysis for brands. YouGov has started to use artificial intelligence to carry out some of those jobs, Shakespeare said, although it had not agreed a formal commercial partnership with any of the main platforms.

Shakespeare, who was this month replaced as chief executive by Steve Hatch, a former Meta executive, said the company would seek new markets, in particular in Europe. 

But Shakespeare said that he would not be a “backseat driver” and no longer wanted anything to do “with the executive side”. Instead, as well as serving as chair, he is helping to write a book on opinion and has plans to develop an arts centre on a Greek island.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *