What Is the London Stock Exchange?

The London Stock Exchange (LSE) is the primary stock exchange in the U.K. and the largest in Europe. Originated in 1773, the regional exchanges were merged in 1973 to form the Stock Exchange of Great Britain and Ireland, later renamed the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 Share Index, or "Footsie", is the dominant index, containing 100 of the top blue chips on the LSE.

The stock exchange is physically located in the city of London. In 2007, the London Stock Exchange merged with the Milan Stock Exchange, Borsa Italiana, to form the London Stock Exchange Group.

Understanding the London Stock Exchange (LSE)

Through its primary markets, the LSE provides cost-efficient access to some of the world’s deepest and most liquid pools of capital. It is home to a wide range of companies and provides electronic equities trading for listed companies.

The LSE is the most international of all stock exchanges with thousands of companies from more than 60 countries, and it is the premier source of equity-market liquidity, benchmark prices, and market data in Europe. Linked by partnerships to international exchanges in Asia and Africa, the LSE intends to remove cost and regulatory barriers from capital markets worldwide.

The Main Market

The Main Market of the LSE is one of the world's most diverse stock markets with companies making up 40 different sectors. The Main Market offers companies access to robust, real-time pricing; access to deep pools of capital; benchmarking through the FTSE UK Index Series; and significant levels of media coverage, research, and announcements.

There are a number of different ways for companies to join the Main Market, including the following:


The Premium segment applies only to equity shares issued by trading firms, as well as closed and open-ended investment entities. Premium listing issuers are required to meet the UK’s super-equivalent rules which are higher than the minimum requirements of the European Union (EU).


The Standard segment is open to the issuing of equity shares, Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs), debt securities, and derivatives that must comply with EU minimum requirements.

Other Segments

The High Growth Segment and the Specialist Fund Segment are designed specifically for high growth, revenue-generating businesses and highly specialized investment entities that target institutional or professionally advised investors, respectively.