There is a capital market revolution going on in Aruba. Small start up companies can now raise funds at the electronic stock exchange platform AESX. The scarcely lit law office of Andin Bikker is situated opposite the azure blue Caribbean Sea. Here, on the outskirts of Aruba’s capital Oranjestad, Bikker thought up his brainchild AESX; an electronic stock exchange for micro exchange markets for small and new businesses, of which the private placement exchange PPDAQ is active. “PPDAQ”, Bikker says in his cool air conditioned office, “is unique because in principle everybody with a well-substantiated idea is welcome. We are operating the micro-micro market, which fits Aruba and Curacao.” The lawyer (36) has seen many Aruba start up companies go bankrupt. To get start up capital most of them mortgaged, at the locally applicable high interest rate, their house. “When things went wrong they were out on the street.”

This also happens in other parts of the world. That is why PPDAQ aims worldwide to provide services to small businesses that lack of funding, and are looking for investors. An ordinary public listing is unaffordable. And even Alternext, the exchange market for small and medium-size businesses that the European stock exchange organization Euronext launched last year, is for many start up companies a bridge too far. “To qualify for Alternext a company must exist for at least two years”, Bikker knows. “That is why we aim at the market one level lower; a pre-phase of the average public listing market.” A standard listing with PPDAQ would cost between 15,000 and 30,000 dollars (12,000 and 24,000 Euro). As basic information for the potential investor every admitted company must submit a prospectus. AESX Platforms is in fact also listed on PPDAQ.

Besides PPDAQ AESX Platforms exists of five other micro stock exchanges: Dutch Caribbean Exchange (DCEXCH), Caribond, RegSX, UKDX and ArubaX. They are technically ready, but not yet operational. They are waiting for companies for whom the exchange in question is suitable for listing. There is also the possibility to lease the micro stock exchange software of AESX. “In those small markets”, says Bikker, “it is better that a local company make the introduction than that we, as a relative outsider, must intervene.”

*Excerpt from Free Translation of Dutch NRC Handelsblad article August 1, 2006, with slight corrections/ updates for mere informational purposes, as per August 2, 2006.

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