Malawi Stock Exchange to start automated trading in May

Malawi Stock Exchange is set to go live with an automated trading system (ATS) and today (30 April) is start date for dematerialization as shareholders move physical certificates onto the Reserve Bank of Malawi electronic Central Securities Depository (CSD). Trading on the African stock exchange is to be automated by end of May.

Malawi Stock Exchange (photo credit: The Times Malawi)

According to the announcement by MSE and RBM: “Electronic trading is expected to commence by end of May 2018 and only securities that have been transferred and registered in the CSD will be traded in the ATS. Going forward, after implementation of the systems, all new IPOs (initial public offers) and subsequent trading will be made in the CSD and the ATS, respectively.

“The CSD is commencing the dematerialization process of the existing paper certificates and therefore requires that shareholders open investor accounts and dematerialize their securities (migrating from paper-based title to electronic securities) in preparation for the trading of electronic-based securities following implementation of the systems.

“Current shareholders are consequently required to contact a registered stock broker or custodian to dematerialize their stock holdings. Stock holders will be required to complete a Stock Holding Declaration and Consent to Dematerialize form upon presentation of the physical certificates; a signed and stamped copy of the form will be provided to the holder. The dematerialization process will run from 30th April, 2018 to 30th September, 2018.

“The investing public is encouraged to open securities accounts (in the same manner that one opens a bank account) through a registered custodian or stock broker from 30th April, 2018 onwards and deposit their share certificates in such accounts. We strongly encourage investors to deposit their securities early in order to minimize inconveniences that holders may face when need to trade arises instead of waiting for the deadline. Investors in regularly trading counters are particularly encouraged to speed up the dematerialisation of the securities.”

Capizar ATS system by InfoTech
The new system is Capizar ATS supplied by InfoTech Group of Pakistan in partnership with local firm Unified Technologies Ltd for infrastructure, also supplying hardware for MSE. Amir Raza Khan, VP & Head of Capital Markets BU at InfoTech, commented in a press announcement: “It is a privilege to work and represent Pakistan on an international platform. We are extremely proud of the expansion InfoTech has made in African markets especially in the SADC region. I would like to congratulate the Reserve Bank of Malawi and wish them success in this new era of automated trading and hope this new direction will influence a rise in aggregate turnover as well as volumes traded.”

The project is part of the $28.2 million Financial Sector Technical Assistance Project funded by a World Bank loan, with the total project set to close on 29 June. The tender was advertised by RBM in November 2016 and a procurement document published by the World Bank puts the CDS cost at $399,000 and the ATS at $723,708, plus links and other costs.

$1.9 bn pensions and insurance
MSE was created in 1994 and started offering secondary market trading in Government of Malawi securities. It started trading equity in November 1996 when it listed National Insurance Company Limited (NICO). It is licensed under the Financial Services Act 2010 and operates under the Securities Act 2010 and the Companies Act 2013. CEO is John Robson Kamanga.

At 30 April there were 3 stockbrokers, and listings were 13 stocks and 2 Government of Malawi bonds. The most recent main board listing was FMBcapital Holdings in September 2017, breaking a 9-year listings drought since Telekom Networks Malawi listed in November 2008. No companies have yet listed on the Alternative Capital Market designed for smaller and medium enterprises (SMEs) to raise capital. FMBCH is based in Mauritius and is holding company for FMBcapital group with banking and financial operations in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Governor, Dalitso Kabambe, said the stock market has a critical role to play in development, according to local newspaper The Times. He said firms are need capital for expansion to increase output, but also funds are growing rapidly outside the stock exchange, especially in pension and life insurance assets. “It is estimated that, by next year, 2018, the country will have a combined total of pension funds and life insurance funds to the tune of MWK1.4 trillion ($1.9 billion), against a total equity at the MSE of MWK762bn ($1.0bn).

“This, if not addressed by listing more companies on the MSE, will likely cause sub-optimal asset allocation, liquidity issues and an asset bubble. We have to avoid this at all costs, and the development of a stock market is a sure way of meeting the objective,” he said.

He was also quoted in a local newspaper The Nation that the new ATS and CSD would enhance confidence for local and international investors.

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