Neuer Markt goes a little grey
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Neuer Markt goes a little grey

It's been a rollercoaster ride. First investors were desperate to buy any stock available, now they are withdrawing funds. But how much is the grey market to blame? Laura Covill reports.

Hans-Joachim Plückers is a friendly, gentle man wearing a silly tie who sits in a glass box at the Düsseldorf stock exchange. The trading floor is embarrassingly quiet; only a dozen traders are left at 3.30pm on a very slow day. Plückers chats affably about his business, and when Euromoney asks to meet a trader who worked on the initial public offering of Epcos, he introduces his wife Doris.

It all seems so amiable, yet Plückers, head of the Schnigge broking firm, is reviled by investment bankers all over Germany. His speciality - in which he claims to have an 85% market share - is running the grey (pre-issuance) market during bookbuilding for German equity offerings.

Schnigge's 30-man team only accepts orders from intermediaries and professional investors. Yet even the competition agree that German retail demand - along with the investment consultants based at bank branches - is guided almost entirely by Schnigge's prices, available on Reuters and on the teletext system of a popular cable TV channel. Schnigge's real-time prices will soon be on the internet too.

Banks complain about Schnigge's influence, but they go on using the firm's services.

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