More than half of UK stock market owned by foreign investors

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 53.2% of UK quoted shares were owned by investors outside the UK in 2012, up from 43.4% in 2010

A screen showing the FTSE 100
A screen showing the FTSE 100

More than half of the £1.76trn UK stock market is now owned by foreign investors, official figures show. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 53.2% of UK quoted shares were owned by investors outside the UK in 2012, up from 43.4% in 2010.

A glut of international mergers and acquisitions and easier access to shares by foreign investors has driven a swing in the ownership of UK quoted firms since the 1990s, statisticians said.

Less than 20% of the UK stock market was owned by foreign investors 20 years ago. Of the £935.1bn stake owned by foreign investors, North Americans own the biggest slice, worth £451.9bn, followed by Europeans, who own £241.3 bn.

Meanwhile, stock holdings by pension funds and insurance companies, traditionally two of the biggest investors in UK shares, have plunged to all-time lows.

UK pension funds’ holdings of shares has fallen to 4.7%, down from 5.6% in 2010 and 21.7% in 1998, possibly reflecting fund managers’ search for higher returns and lower risk. Insurance companies’ stake in the UK stock market is down to 6.2% from 8.8% in 2010 and 21.6% in 1998.

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