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September 29, 2015

How UK investors are hoping to cash in on cyber security

Analysis: A new fund on the London Stock Exchange gives investors the chance to make money from the cyber security industry.

By Charlotte Henry

The first exchange traded fund (ETF) in Europe to offer exposure to the cyber security industry began trading on the London Stock Exchange yesterday.

Instead of buying shares in one firm, the fund allows investors to trade on the underlying value in a collection of over companies.

These include some of the biggest names in the industry, for example, Sophos, Cisco, and Trend Micro. The product was launched by ETF Securities, and ISE ETF Ventures.

Howie Li, co-head of canvas at ETF Securities, told CBR: "What a diversified investment tier does gives you exposure to the general trend of cyber security companies, so the sector itself…it’s all about the general trend over the long term."

A cyber security ETF has already been trading on the US stock market for 10 months, and now has over $1bn of assets under management. However, the new ETF made a slow start on the market yesterday, with only 312 shares traded.

On a first day of trading, this could be reasonably attributed to the fact that City regulations prevent public promotion of the product before it comes to market.

Li said: "As of yesterday we can start publicly marketing that to the general public, this is for us when the effort starts. We’re able to now raise awareness of the availability of the product. We’re able to raise awareness about cyber security as an industry."

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With the number of cyber security breaches and attacks continuing to grow, the companies involved in the fund are likely to increase in value.

George O’Connor, a software analyst at Panmure Gordon told CBR: "London has an established ETF market – so yes the structure is there. Also the topic is pretty front of mind right now, and the concern about cyber security will not dissipate any time soon."

The creators believe that the ETF offers investors the chance to be involved in a growing industry, in a way that is liquid, and allows them to spread both risk and opportunity. They plan to spread it to further European markets in the not too distant future.

Kris Monaco, head of ISE ETF Ventures said: "As cyber crime continues to grow, governments and companies are prioritising cyber security as an essential investment. With 42.8m cyber attacks in 2014 and global cyber crime costing an estimated $400bn this is a sector we can expect to dominate headlines and corporate budgets.

Cyber crime, it seems, might be a fear for many of us, but it’s an opportunity for investors.

In an exclusive interview with CBR’s editor in chief Ambrose McNevin, Kris Hagerman, CEO of Sophos,said: "All the studies say IT security is the number one priority for organisations of all sizes. Whenever I speak with industry observers, with investment bank analysts or with third party analysts they all say among surveys of CIOs the common finding is that IT security is the number one priority in every segment, more than cloud, more than storage. It has been number one in 2014, 2015 will be in 2016 and it keeps distancing itself further ahead relative to the rest of IT."

Read an exclusive interview with Kris Hagerman, CEO Sophos, in the latest edition of CBR.

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