The dynamic Stock Exchange of Mauritius (www.stockexchangeofmauritius.com) is pushing ahead with a wide range of activities aimed at building its role as a secure base for international funding transactions and an African alternative to international listing venues. It is moving to becoming a multi-product exchange aimed at the international market, through rapid development from its origins as an exchange focused only on the domestic market.
According to the website: “In the years to come, the split of listings on SEM is expected to overwhelmingly consist of international funds, international issuers, specialized debt instruments, Africa-focused Exchange-traded funds and other structured products. As SEM also aspires to emerge as a capital-raising platform for Africa-focused investments routed through the Global Business Sector, the SEM platform will growingly (sic) be used to channel investment flows from SA/Europe/Asia into Africa and from USA/Europe into Asia.” Mauritius combines good regulation with flexibility and has been a key base for funds including private equity funds investing into Africa and into India.
The bourse is aiming for a wide range and growing numbers of issuers, players and investors, increasing the breadth and depth of the Mauritius market and integrating the Mauritius financial services sector within the international financial system.
It made major changes to the Listing Rules (early 2010) to align them with the government’s Collective Investment Schemes Regulations 2008, positioning SEM as an attractive venue for listing Global and Specialised Funds, in line with the strategic shifts. The Listing Rules are more flexible to reflect the specific attributes and characteristics of the specialised funds to be listed. SEM aims to be platform of choice for listing a wide variety of funds such as Specialised Collective Investment Schemes, Professional Collective Schemes Export Funds, Global Schemes as part of diversifying product offerings and emerging as an international exchange. The management also commits to aggressive timing in processing listing applications and a competitive listing fee structure. In May 2011, SEM introduced Chapter 18 in the SEM’s Listing Rules, to cater for the listing of specialist companies and specialist debt instruments, targeted at qualified investors.
It is one of the African leaders in multi-currency trading and (since 2010) can trade and settle equity and debt products in Euro and GBP. From June 2011 it was the first exchange in Africa to list, trade and settle equity products in USD.
It supplies real time data through top global vendors such as Thompson Reuters, Financial Times and Bloomberg (since early 2010). The data coverage by global vendors is a powerful marketing medium to enhance SEM’s visibility internationally and put the exchange on the radar screen of a wider spectrum of international investors, thus attracting more foreign investor interest on our market. Mauritius is one of the few African exchanges to be connected to Bloomberg and Thompson Reuters real-time. Growing interest from international investors has prompted index and data providers including Standard & Poors, Morgan Stanley, Dow Jones and FTSE to include SEM in new indexes recently launched to track the evolution of key frontier emerging markets.
Over the last 10 years, the Mauritius Bourse has attracted strong foreign investor interest, generating positive investment inflows into many listed companies. 2010 was a record year for net foreign investment inflows. “For 2011, we are already stepping up our efforts via international conferences and roadshows, to place the SEM on the radar screen of institutional investors who are keen on frontier emerging markets that are well regulated and adhere to international best practice”, says the website.
SEM also has ambitions to contribute more broadly to the development of the Mauritian economy and to help grow capital market activities nationally and throughout Africa.
Highlights of recent history
SEM became a full member of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE – www.world-exchanges.org) in November 2005. This is a high standard and shows that SEM is in the top rank in terms of stringent standards and market principles required to be accepted to this status by the WFE, which sets the standards for registered securities markets worldwide. The standards are recognized by industry, regulators and supervisorss. The WFE membership helps ensure that foreign investors play a growing role – “in a typical year, foreign investments represent 25–35% of trading activities on our market” according to the website.
The Development & Enterprise Market (DEM) was set up in 2006 This is the market for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) and newly set-up companies with sound business plans and showing growth potential. Companies can use the advantages and facilities of an organised and regulated market to raise capital for growth, to improve liquidity in their shares, to obtain an objective market valuation and to enhance their corporate image.
Since March 2010, the SEM was designated by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) as an “Approved Stock Exchange” by virtue of its membership of the WFE for the purposes of CIMA’s Mutual Funds Law, Banks and Trust Companies Law, Insurance Law, Companies Management Law and Securities Investment Business Law. This raises SEM’s profile as a well-structured and properly regulated exchange and enhances SEM’s position as an attractive listing venue for global and specialised funds.
From 31 January 2011, SEM has been designated by the United Kingdom tax authorities, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), as a “recognised Stock Exchange” under section 1005 (1) (b) Income Tax Act 2007. This means that securities admitted to trading and listed on the Official Market of the SEM will meet the HMRC interpretation of “listed” as set out in section 1005 (3) (a) and (3) (b) Income Tax Act 2007 and for Inheritance Tax purposes. This designation confers potential benefits such as permitting UK pension schemes to hold securities listed on the Official Market of SEM, giving companies and funds listed on SEM access to a larger market of sophisticated, well-capitalised investors. The designation reinforces SEM’s attractiveness as a listing venue for global funds and specialized products. Securities listed on the Official Market of the SEM may be held in tax advantaged Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) and Personal Equity Plans (PEPs) by UK investors. Holders of debt securities satisfying the Eurobond exemption and listed on the Official Market of the SEM are exempted from withholding tax on distributions underlying these debt securities. Inheritance tax advantages may accrue to UK holders of securities listed on the Official Market of the SEM.