Archive for the 'Innovation' Category

First African fixed income ETF listed in Mauritius, tracking bond index

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and Mauritius Commercial Bank Group (MCB) have launched the African Domestic Bond Fund (ADBF). The pioneer exchange-traded fund (ETF) is accessible to investors through its listing on 18 September on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius.

Sunil Benhimadhu, Chief Executive of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius submitted the Certificate of Listing of the African Domestic Bond Fund to Mr Stefan Nalletamby, Director AfDB FInancial Sector Development Department and Mr Rony Lam, CEO of MCB Capital Markets.


The ADBF fund will track the performance of the AfDB/AFMI Bloomberg African Bond Index 25%Capped, an index that comprises African local currency sovereign bonds of 8 African markets: Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Zambia. It is intended that sovereign bonds of other countries will be included in the index in future.

It is the first multi-jurisdictional fixed income exchange-traded fund (ETF) in Africa. The Bank has committed $25 million and is acting as an anchor investor of ADBF. It was listed on Stock Exchange of Mauritius came on 18 September 2018.

Fund Manager is MCB Investment Management (MCBIM), a subsidiary of MCB Capital Markets. MCBIM is a pioneer of the pan-African fixed-income asset class, it launched the MCB Africa Bond Fund, an actively managed mutual fund focused on African fixed income, in 2014. The African Development Bank says the fund has consistently outperformed its benchmark.

The AfDB’s African Financial Markets Initiative (AFMI) aims to strengthen African economies by reducing their dependency on debt denominated in foreign currency (FX), increasing the range of available financing options, and acting as a catalyst for regional market integration.

According to the press release: Pierre-Guy Noel, chief executive officer of MCB Group, said: “We are delighted to partner with the African Development Bank in launching this pioneering fund. This attests to the Bank and MCB’s commitment to help develop the local currency fixed income markets on the continent and to the quality of our investment management capabilities. The fund listing on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius brings to investors the opportunity to access African government bonds conveniently.”

Cédric Achille Mbeng Mezui, Chief African Bond Markets & Coordinator of African Financial Markets Initiative (AFMI), said: “A key milestone has been achieved today with the listing of the first multijurisdictional Sovereign Bond ETF, namely the African Domestic Bond Fund (ADBF) on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. Next steps: The dual listing on the Nigeria Stock Exchange and increased investment in this Fund.”

Consensys ramps up blockchain rollout in African financial markets with new appointment

Leading #Blockchain innovator #Consensys continues to ramp up its role in shaping the future of financial services and capital markets in Africa with the recruitment of #fintech veteran Ian Bessarabia. He joins the team as Head of South African Operations to support the implementation of enterprise Blockchain solution.
Bessarabia has been working in fintech for 20 years, and has managed operations teams, project implementations and market-driven initiatives in an array of countries and across industry. He is best known in African and global capital markets for his work as Market Development Lead – Fixed Income, Foreign Exchange and Blockchain – Africa at Thomson Reuters and previously as Business Development Manager at SWIFT.

Ian Bessarabia


ConsenSys is a worldwide venture production studio that specialises in building decentralised applications (DApps), enterprise solutions and various developer tools for Blockchain ecosystems, focused primarily on Ethereum. Powered by smart contracts, and secured through encryption, the applications provide the benefits of transparency, auditability, and immutability that are unique to solutions based on blockchain.
In a recent post on LinkedIn Bessarabia wrote: “Blockchain has the power to transform the way businesses share information and deliver services. However, this relatively new technology needs to demonstrate clear value to businesses before it builds enough trust to go mainstream.
In a recent press release Bessarabia adds: “Much time has been spent analysing and challenging the underlying technology, and there is a pressing need to shift the thinking into a tangible business narrative, and pragmatic adoption. Expansion within the local financial sector will see our marketplace becoming Blockchain enabled. The idea is that every asset bought or sold would be on the ledger”.

Monica Singer

Monica Singer, South Africa Lead at ConsenSys, recruited him: “It provides me tremendous pleasure to take someone with the abilities and experience as Ian on board. We are on such an incredibly exciting journey and having Ian provide his input is a real boon for us.”
According to the press release: “(Ian) thrives on mentoring start-ups and early-stage initiatives looking at deploying technology for social good. As an ethical protagonist, he is also a participant of the Ethics and Governance Think Tank, run by The University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science” He is on the South African Financial Blockchain Consortium (SAFBC), a group aimed at educating and bringing the benefits of Blockchain to the industry for the benefit of the entire country.

What is Ethereum?
According to the Ethereum website it’s a way to build “unstoppable applications”:
“Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference.
“These apps run on a custom built blockchain, an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent the ownership of property.
“This enables developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middleman or counterparty risk.”

Mobile phone app for trading on Zimbabwe securities exchanges

Investors can check their portfolios and send orders to their stockbrokers on their smartphones in Zimbabwe with an app called C-Trade from today (4 July). C-Trade is an online and mobile trading platform for shares on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) and the second licensed exchange, the Financial Securities Exchange (FINSEC).

According to an article in the Herald newspaper, C-Trade is for financial inclusion in Africa: “The platform will enable investors, both local and foreign to purchase securities from anywhere in the world anytime, using mobile devices. The initiative is being led by capital markets regulator, Securities Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe (SECZ), and seeks to promote financial inclusion by encouraging participation by the smallest retail investor.”

The Herald newspaper reported SECZ chief executive Tafadzwa Chinamo saying that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had agreed to launch the programme. “After that what you will be seeing more of is our campaign as SECZ to educate the public on what investing on the capital markets is about.”

“We have taken the issue of deepening and broadening the capital markets very seriously, to the extent that we added a new committee to our board of investor education.” In July 2017 Chinamo said SECZ had committed $300,000 to a campaign to get more people engaged in the capital market.

Escrow Systems headquartered in Zimbabwe has created the C-Trade programme to trade bonds and shares, using the same technology as Kenya’s world-first M-Akiba mobile Government bond sold on mobile phones to small investors in Kenya, from minimum denomination of $30. Here is our post on M-Akiba from October 2015 and a Reuters story on the eventual M-Akiba launch in March 2017.

According to a report in Newsday, Escrow Group chief executive officer Collen Tapfumaneyi said: “C-Trade is a mobile trading platform and is combination of a number of systems that enable investors to access the securities market or capital markets popularly known as the stock to enable people buy shares and all that. It comes in three forms, USSD application which can be utilised by mobile network subscribers. We have Econet and Telecel, but we are about to finalise with NetOne as well so within a few days all three will be on board,” It is not restricted to local mobile operators to enable foreign investors, including those in Diaspora.

Trading is still through a stockbroker, as before, says Chinamo of SECZ: ”This application is essentially sold to a stock broker to give the brokers clients access to the market. Rules of the exchange are still valid. For your trade to go through, it needs the authenticity of your broker so the broker is still liable for your trade, settlement, clearing and feed.”

The platform allows easier access for smart-phone users to manage their portfolios when they are away from a desktop/laptop.

Escrow is offering it on revenue-sharing basis to users with “minimal or no costs to market participants” according to an older news story in Financial Gazette.

According to an article today in Newsday, there are 13 licensed stock-broking firms in Zimbabwe, of which 3 signed up to use C-Trade. Escrow’s Tapfumaneyi said they were still talking about sharing fees: “C-Trade acts as an agent for the broker. The broker will still earn his full revenue according to the fee charged. However, the brokers pay a fee to use the platform which is negotiable.

“What we are basically doing is get business for them and they keep their traditional business. But, if we get people registering online and placing orders online, all that traffic is being channelled through to the brokers which then gets channelled to the exchange. So we are basically an extension of the brokers,” he said.

“These orders, when they come to the brokers, is also the issue of evaluation and trading is not just picking an order from a client and sending it through. You have got to analyse the market and advise the client what the pricing should be and all that. So we still have that interface.”

The target for C_Trade is about 20,000 individual participants by year-end and an ultimate goal of 2 million people.

African capital markets and innovation key to achieving African agenda

“The time is now to stop aspiring to building and focus on ensuring the African financial markets are actually built.”

    Paul Muthaura CMA Kenya (photo The East African)

  • African capital markets are key to African development visions but governments must prioritize market finance structures over donor and government-to-government finance.
  • How to mobilize over $1trn of assets in pension, insurance and collective investment vehicles across sub-Saharan Africa
  • Innovation at the core of Kenya’s 10-year capital markets masterplan, including M-Akiba bonds, regulatory sandbox, mobile platforms for securities trading
  • Governments to provide conducive environments
  • Capital markets connectivity to allow free flow of capital across borders to fund critical infrastructure for Continental Free Trade Area

Here are extracts from the speech by Paul Muthaura, CEO of the Capital Markets Authority of Kenya, this morning at the 7th annual “Building Africa Financial Markets Seminar” in Nairobi.

Also present was HE William Samoei Ruto (Deputy President of Kenya), Oscar Onyema (President of African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange), Sam Kimani (Chairman of the Nairobi Securities Exchange) and Geoffrey Odundo (CEO of NSE).

“This conference also comes closely on the heels of the admission of the NSE to the World Federation of Exchanges which acknowledges the trajectory of our markets’ growth in recent years and reinvigorates us for the journey ahead as we seek to position the NSE as a globally competitive platform for wealth creation, a global cross roads for investment and risk management and a critical catalyst for economic transformation.

“The central role of deepening capital markets to finance infrastructure, business enterprise and overall economic development is increasingly a key pillar of policy makers’ agendas in Africa. For instance, the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 prioritizes the development of capital markets on the continent to strengthen domestic resource mobilization and to double market-based financings’ contribution to development financing.

“Similar prioritization is found in several national visions including Nigeria’s FSS2020, Zambia’s Vision 2030, Rwanda’s Vision 2020, Uganda’s Vision 2040 and of course the Kenya Vision 2030. Over US$1 trillion in assets are currently held by pension, insurance and collective investment vehicles across sub-Saharan Africa so the challenge to us in this room remains how are we going to leverage these pools to crowd-in the significantly larger pools of global capital necessary to fund the meteoric rise of this continent.

Innovation

“Institutions or sectors that do not prioritize innovation are ultimately relegated to stunted growth, poor competitiveness and ultimately, redundancy. The very fact that we are all gathered here today affirms that as a continent we are committed to actively deliberating on proactively adapting to emerging innovations. To institutionalize this commitment to constructive innovation at a national level, the Authority was honoured to convene our sector and international partners to put in place the Capital Markets Masterplan (CMMP) – a 10-year strategic policy document that targets to stimulate innovation to broaden product and service offerings, deepen market participation and liquidity, and drive transformative economic development for Kenya and the wider region.

“Any conversation on innovation appears inseparable from a deliberation on the global efforts to continuously update business models in line with technological changes cutting across product/services design, infrastructure, access and supervision. To this last point, regulators are increasingly challenged to rethink their supervisory models to align regulatory requirements with market needs is a fast-changing environment.

“For some time now, Kenya has been sitting in a unique position as a bustling hub for impactful innovation, ranging from MPESA – a fast and convenient mobile money platform to M-Shwari – a mobile-based savings product. Not to be left behind, Kenya’s capital markets have through various initiatives have been angling to put the country on the global innovation map. These initiatives include;

  • The recent launch of M-Akiba – a mobile-phone-based retail government bond primary and secondary market investment platform,
  • The on-going efforts to establish a Regulatory Sandbox for Kenya’s capital markets to provide an ideal platform for testing of ideas/innovations/products/services etc. before they are rolled-out to the wider market; and
  • The development of a wide spectrum of mobile based platforms for securities trading.

“As a regulator cognisant of our dual mandate of regulation as well as development, the Authority has also operationalized principle-based approval powers to allow for the accelerated introduction of new products including exchange-traded Funds, GDR/Ns (global depository receipts) and asset-backed securities.

Right foundations

“It is critical, particularly given the nascent state of markets on most of the continent, that we do not lose sight of the critical importance to build our markets on the right foundations. In a world where we are eternally competing for highly mobile capital, we must prioritize the development and more critically the transparent enforcement of world class legal and regulatory frameworks; in pursuing innovation, we must not forsake robust market infrastructure that provides pre and post trade transparency and engenders confidence in settlement finality; we must ensure that the products and services being developed are actually relevant and responsive to the economic needs of our environment, resonate with the political priorities of our governments and strengthen the savings and investment habits of our citizenry.

“We must challenge our governments to provide conducive macro-economic, political and fiscal environments for markets to grow. Difficult as it may be, we must be willing to prioritize market-based funding models over traditional government-to-government and donor funding models. What appears concessionary today will likely be unsustainable tomorrow where the necessary market dynamics have not been built to support private sector growth and SME business as the engines for long-term sustainable economic growth and as a critical source of tax revenue to ensure debt service and sustainability.

“We must challenge our market intermediaries to raise their operational and technical standards to be able to support responsive product design and ethical practices, all parties need to come together to drive both issuer and investor education on the full spectrum of financing options available to them to ensure the supply side is as dynamic as the demand side’s need.

“We must challenge our domestic institutional investors to make the difficult decisions to diversify into appropriate market-based risk products that allow for effective asset-liability matching in place of traditional government debt and, needless to say, proactively work with government to consistently lower government borrowing rates in order to tackle the crowding-out effect all too common with the easy availability of double-digit risk-free assets.

“If we are to deliver robust African capital markets we must deepen the capacity of the complementary professionals, support independent auditor oversight, robust corporate governance and globally benchmarked certification standards.

“Introduction of REITS (real estate investment trusts), operationalizing collateral management and liquidity management tools like REPOs and securities lending and borrowing, Impending green finance, roll-out of Islamic finance, delivery of commodities exchange and warehouse infrastructure, derivatives markets to support hedging, online forex trading (FX CFDs), and leveraging fintech to support access and market growth, are all critical components in deepening and diversifying the capital markets that have received and continue to receive strong support from the government in partnership with market stakeholders.

Pan-African challenge

“With the introduction of the Continental Free Trade Area, it is for the capital markets to address pan-continental connectivity to allow for the free flow of capital across borders to fund the critical infrastructure necessary to support the free movement of goods and services under the free trade area. The time is now to stop aspiring to building and focus ensuring the African financial markets are actually built.

“As the capital markets regulator, we are keen on actively playing our role in positioning Kenya as an investment hub for East and middle Africa. By 2023, we envision Kenya as the choice market for domestic, regional and international issuers and investors looking for a safe and secure investment destination.”

For the full speech, see the CMA Kenya website.

Top learning on the future of African exchanges – BAFM seminar this week 19-20 April

The 7th Building African Financial Markets (BAFM) seminar has a top lineup and tomorrow (17 April) is the last day to register The seminar is part of the annual programme of capital markets development and synergies of the African Securities Exchanges Association and is also backed by the World Federation of Exchanges. It is hosted by Nairobi Securities Exchange, will be on 19-20 April at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi.

Leading the programme will be William Ruto (Deputy President of Kenya), Geoff Odundo (CEO, Nairobi Securities Exchange), Samuel Kimani (Chairman of the Nairobi SE), Oscar Onyema (President of ASEA and CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange), Paul Muthaura (CEO of the Capital Markets Authority of Kenya).

Topics are focused on market structures, innovation, new technology and linkages, including top international speakers:

• Adaptive innovation and the blueprint for orderly markets in Africa – Siobhan Cleary (Head of Policy and Research, World Federation of Exchanges) and Stebbings Archie (Principal, Oliver Wyman)
• Building blocks for innovative markets: effective risk management for clearing and settlement, a CCP in a box – Stuart Turner (Founder, Avenir Technology)
• Building new markets in a frontier economy and the impact on indigenized solutions: The Kenyan experience – Terry Adembesa (Director, Derivatives Markets, Nairobi SE)
• Linking African exchanges organically – Selloua Chakri (Managing Director, SCL Advisory)
• Building blocks for innovative markets: A guide for managing cyber risk – Joseph Tegbe (Partner and Head of Technology Advisory at KPMG, Nigeria)
• FinTech as an enabler for sustainable development: An innovation showcase – Panel with moderator Catherine Karita (Executive Director at NIC Securities), Farida Bedwei (Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer, Logiciel Ltd), David Waithaka (Chief Strategist at Cellulant Kenya), Candice Dott (Head of Market Development and Customer Experience across Africa, Thomson Reuters), Alex Siboe (Head of Digital Financial Services at KCB Bank Kenya) and Julianne Roberts (F3 Life)
• RegTech: Leveraging technology in the effective risk management and regulation of African capital markets – Michele Carlsson (Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Nasdaq)
• Effective financial education: The role of emerging technology in contemporary Africa – Abimbola Ogunbanjo (Managing Partner, Chris Ogunbanjo & Co.)
• Financial innovations in SME financing: Opportunities for African MSMEs – Sofie Blakstad (CEO, Hiveonline)
• Disruptive technologies reshaping the future of African financial markets: M-Akiba – Irungu Waggema (Head of IT, Nairobi Securities Exchange)
• Impact of EU Regulation on African Capital Markets (EMIR, BMR, MIFID II, GDPR) – Anne Clayton (Head of Public Policy, Johannesburg Stock Exchange)
• Financing sustainable development: Product and market innovations – Anthony Miller (Coordinator at the Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiatives)
• Disruptive technologies: Blockchain – the future of finance or a flash in the pan? – panel with moderator Ade Bajomo (Executive Director, Information Technology and Operations, Access Bank), Reggie Middleton (CEO and Founder of Veritaseum), Abubakar Mayanja (MD of ABL), Adriana Marais (Head of Innovation SAP Africa) and Samuel Maina (Research Scientist at IBM Research Lab Africa)

It’s a key gathering for Africa’s securities exchanges and key learning for all interested in the future of capital markets and their role in African development. For more information and for bookings, rush to this registration link.

Happy New Year 2018 to our readers

Best wishes to all the readers of African Capital Markets News for 2018. May the year be happy, busy, successful and prosperous for Africa’s securities exchanges, stockbrokers, investment bankers, private equity practitioners and professionals and all those developing the impact investing and financial inclusion space.
We have updated our 2018 listing of conferences, see conferences and events page. Kindly let us know of any events we are missing or should be added.

Innovative African IPO and listing successes show strong demand

Here is a round-up of recent initial public offers (IPOs) and other listings of shares on African Stock Exchanges, many of them over-subscribed. Namibia has scored its first listing of a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), while Mauritius is the home for an innovative listing of Afreximbank GDRs and of 2 primary listings on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Namibia: Nimbus Infrastructure Limited is first SPAC vehicle
Nimbus Infrastructure Limited listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) via private placement and started trading on 6 October. It raised more than N$100 million ($7m) from local investment institutions and retail investors. It aims to invest into information, computer and telecommunications (ICT) projects and institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is Namibia’s first listed capital pool company (CPC). This is a type of company, also known as a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), is most popular in the USA or Canada and South Africa’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has listed several SPACs.

The company has no commercial operations or assets, except cash. It uses its cash to evaluate promising investments and once it has invested in a viable business, usually within a set timeframe, it continues to operate as a conventional listed company. The funds are kept in an escrow account and are released on approval by shareholders or in line with a pre-approved spending budget, according to the company website. It must also comply with the Corporate Governance Code for Namibia (NamCode).

The private placement was open from 15-29 September. The listing of Nimbus was a joint initiative between Cirrus Capital, Paratus Namibia and Cronje and Company.

According to the company, it “is currently looking at a number of potential transactions and as per the stock exchange rules, aims to take these transactions forward for shareholder approval before the end of the year.” Nimbuas has signed a management agreement with Paratus.

According to an NSX statement, reported in Namibian Economist: “The Nimbus listing boasts exciting opportunities for Namibia, as not only does it focus on the fast-growing ICT sector across the continent, but in so doing, it offers a strong diversification opportunity for the funds of institutions and individuals alike, allowing diversified jurisdiction, currency and sector returns for investors. Further to this, as Namibia’s first CPC, Nimbus represents an opportunity to prove a new concept that will likely form a critical part of the future development of the Namibian real and financial sectors”.

Côte d’Ivoire: Ecobank Cote d’Ivoire
Ecobank Cote d’Ivoire launched a share offer on 27 September and closed it the same day as it was already twice oversubscribed. The IPO was to sell 20.44% of the bank’s shareholding in the form of 2,250,000 shares at XOF20,000 per share, raising XOF45bn (USD79.5m).

The bank is set to list on the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM) in December, where it will join parent company Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), a leading share on the BRVM, the Nigerian Stock Exchang and the Ghana Stock Exchanghe.

The offer, organized by stockbrokers EDC Investment Corporation and Hudson & Cie had been scheduled to run from 22 September to 11 October. It was 2.2x oversubscribed on the first day.

According to Enko Capital “Ecobank Cote d’Ivoire was created in 1989 following the acquisition of Chase Manhattan Bank. The bank has since expanded to become the third largest lender in Ivory Coast with a market share of 10.5% in terms of loans and 11.7% in terms of deposits and employs 648 people across 53 branches holding 274,018 accounts.

“Prior to the IPO, ETI held a 94.26% stake in Ecobank Cote d’Ivoire and this will reduce to 75% post listing. ETI was founded in Togo in 1985 and currently has a presence in 36 African countries. The banking group is listed on three exchanges in Africa.. Its stock is owned by more than 600,000 shareholders and the group employs over 17,000 people across 1,200 branches and offices. Ecobank Cote d’Ivoire is the third largest contributor to ETI’s group revenue after Ecobank Nigeria and Ecobank Ghana.”

Namibia: Letshego Holdings
Letshego Holdings Namibia had to extend its IPO by 4 days to 26 September and drop its offer price from NAD4.70 to NAD3.80 per share, according to Enko Capital: “The main purpose of the IPO was to satisfy the Bank of Namibia’s conditions for granting a banking license to Letshego Bank Namibia in 2016 which require a minimum 45% local ownership within a four year period.”

Letshego listed on 28 September on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX)with a market capitlaization of NAD1.9 billion, according to a report in New Era and a press release.

Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein did not have a warm view of capital markets as he celebrated the listing: “’With this listing Letshego has taken a dive into the shark pool, but this is a well-prepared dive that you were truly prepared for”.

Over 3,600 qualifying applications were received during the 4-week offer, with individuals and non-institutional investors making up NAD40m of the total NAD180m raised.

NSX CEO Tiaan Bazuin said: “I am extremely pleased with the successful listing of Letshego. There has been a lot of talk about localization in the Namibian market and this listing shows the best way, in my mind, to achieve this goal.”

Letshego Namibia is an offshoot of Letshego Holdings Limited, listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, which has reduced its holding from 85% to 79%. Letshego Bank Namibia has had a full licence since July 2016, and is a 100% subsidiary of Letshego Holdings Namibia. Its origin in 2002 was as Edu Loan Namibia, making salary loans, and in 2008 Letshego bought majority shareholding.

Mauritius – Afeximbank global depositary receipts
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), headquartered in Egypt, raised more than its $100m minimum target after selling global depositary receipts (GDRs) backed by its Class D shares. The GDRs listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius was on 4 October. The minimum investment for the offer was $30,000 and it closed on 22 September.

Afreximbank is a supranational trade finance bank established in October 1993. Class A shareholders consist of African States, African central banks and African public institutions; Class B shareholders are African financial institutions and African private investors; Class C shareholders are non-African investors, such as international banks and export credit agencies; while Class D shareholders can be any investors.

South Africa: African Rainbow Capital Investments
This newly formed company listed on the main board of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on 7 September, the 12th listing to date in 2017. It raised ZAR4.0bn ($282m) and brought the total capital raised on the JSE in the year to date to ZAR76bn ($54bn), according to this JSE press release.

ARC Investments is a capital raising and investment entity incorporated in Mauritius which will offer shareholders the opportunity to invest in a permanently broad-based black controlled investment entity holding a diversified portfolio of investments. The initial investment portfolio held by ARC Investments will be seeded by African Rainbow Capital Proprietary Limited (ARC), which will remain the majority shareholder in ARC Investments.

Shareholders invest alongside ARC in the initial portfolio of 16 investments in financial services including: Alexander Forbes Limited, Alexander Forbes Group Limited, Indwe Broker Holdings, Senayo Securities and Santam and and 17 non-financial services including investments in agriculture and food production, building and construction, energy, information technology and telecommunications, investment holding companies and real estate businesses. Its most significant investment is a 20% interest in Multisource Telecoms Proprietary Limited, currently trading as Rain. According to Reuters, ARC Investments is valued at ZAR8.5bn, and has 3 cornerstone investors including Singapore’s GIC Pte Ltd, the Public Investment Corporation and Sanlam Private Wealth.

ARC is a majority black-owned investment holding company which seeks to utilize its empowerment credentials, strong balance sheet and the track record of its leadership and brand to invest in financial services distribution businesses. ARC is wholly owned by Ubuntu-Botho Investments (UBI), which was created in 2003.

Patrice Motsepe, Chairman of both Ubuntu Botho Investments and ARC, said: “the listing of ARC Investments on the JSE is a major step towards realising one of the key objectives of ARC, namely to build a world class broad- based black – controlled investment entity for all South Africans.”

Nemer says the JSE is equally proud to help ARC Investments facilitate its goal of providing investment exposure for the public to B-BBEE assets, which are often only held privately.

South Africa – Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR)

Holding company Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR) successfully raised ZAR15.38bn (USD1.08bn) after placing 750,000,000 shares at ZAR20.50 each between 4 and 14 September. It listed on the JSE on 20 September.

It brings public shareholding to 21.7% of STAR, which was formed as part of the restructuring of the Steinhoff Group, and Steinhoff International holds 78.3%. The group has 4,808 stores in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Brands operating under the STAR group include Pep, Ackermans, Poco, Russells, Flash, Bradlows, Rochester, Buco, Timbercity, The Tile House, Incredible Connection, HiFi Corp, Dunns, John Craig, Refinery, Shoe City, Tekkie Town and Sleepmasters.

According to Enko capital, the offer was 4.8x over-subscribed.

South Africa: Brainworks
Mauritius-registered investment holding company Brainworks, with an investment base focused on hospitality, real estate, financial serice and logistics in Zimbabwe, listed on the JSE on 13 October, after an IPO from 28 September to 11 October. It is the first Zimbabwean company with a proimary listing on the JSE and the 16th listing for the year to date, according to a JSE press release, where it sought to raise ZAR316.5m (USD22.3m) through the sale of 27,523,951 shares at ZAR11.50 per share.

Brainworks was established in 2011 and holds investments including controlling stakes in 2 listed hospitality companies, African Sun and Dawn Properties, which are listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. It also has investments in GetBucks, GetCash, GetSure, MyBucks, Skyclear and FML Logistics and says approximately 38% of revenue is generated in hard currency.

Donna Nemer, Director: Capital Markets at the JSE, says the exchange is proud to welcome Brainworks to the South African market. “As Africa’s largest stock exchange, the JSE believes we can make an important contribution to the growth and the development of our continent. We do this through offering foreign investors a secure and transparent entry point into Africa and providing the companies who do business here with a liquid platform to raise further capital to fund their expansion.”

Nemer says the JSE also favours dual- or cross-listings, wherein debt or equity is listed simultaneously on the JSE and on a local market. “This assists companies from other African countries to gain access to a much larger capital pool and trade in a more liquid environment, while still allowing local market participation.”

Thanks to research contribution by Enko Capital, which invests in African opportunities.

Strate’s CEO Monica Singer steps down to focus on blockchain

Monica Singer, the former CEO of South African central securities depository Strate, stepped down at the end of August 2017. Monica had been the project manager of Strate since its inception, and has led the organization for nearly 20 years. She will concentrate full time on blockchain.

Maria Vermaas, who has been Head of the Legal and Regulatory Division since the start of Strate, has been appointed as Interim CEO. The long-standing executive team will continue to drive strategic objectives, according to an announcement from Strate, which adds that Monica is leaving “to fulfil her dream of living in Cape Town and to pursue new opportunities”.

“Monica’s entrepreneurial spirit, together with her visionary leadership” drove the introduction of electronic settlement for South Africa’s financial markets. Strate is proud of “being a Conscious Company that creates shared value for all stakeholders” and globally recognized as one of the most progressive CSDs.

Monica says (in the statement): “I have always had a passion for innovation and technology that drives societal change. With the potential disruption that the financial markets may face, particularly with disruptive technologies like blockchain, I will continue to research to stay ahead of developments which may lead me to consulting on these topics.”

She has been key in several networks that share ideas internationally including as Vice President of the Africa & Middle East Depositories Association (AMEDA), over 18 years in the International Securities Services Association (ISSA), World Forum of CSDs (WFC) and Americas’ Central Securities Depositories Association (ACSDA).

Strate Chairman Rob Barrow, comments: “The Board, together with the Executive team and staff, would like to thank Monica for her contribution to Strate and the legacy that she has left behind. We would like to wish her all the best for her future endeavours.”

Full time in blockchain
According to this news story by Michael de Castillo on Coindesk, Monica is devoting her considerable energies “to dedicate her career to bringing blockchain to industries from finance and insurance to medicine and retail”.

Monica Singer: Blockchain is coming and its going to change the world (Photocredit: coindesk)

“In her first conversation with the media since her resignation, Singer explained how she believes the tech could help her finally cut out what she describes as ‘unnecessary middlemen.’

“Singer told CoinDesk: ‘I’m so in love with blockchain, that the only thing I’m doing, all the time, is telling the world, “Guys, wake up! This is coming, and this is going to change the world.”’ According to the story, Monica will use her global contacts to widen her interest beyond the financial sector. The article mentions ethereum startup ConsenSys and digital ledger startup Ripple among the “fintech” companies Monica is interested in working with.

She still believes CSDs can provide important services, even if blockchain means they will “not have a role to play” in the blockchain world. She is set to speak at the Sibos banking conference in October on blockchain in the cash and securities settlement space and at the World Federation of CSDs in Hong Kong in November.

It quotes her saying: “I love saying to people: ‘Give me a brief description of your industry.’ I can quickly tell them in which way that industry will be affected by this new, incredible technology. So, that’s what I need to do.

“I was the person who moved South Africa’s financial markets from paper to digital.. When I discovered blockchain, I thought this is exactly what we need in the world.”

Brief history of clearing and settlement in South Africa
Johannesburg Stock Exchange rang the final bell on 108 years of open-outcry trading on 7 June 1996. Most recently trading had been in a huge hall at the bottom of its then headquarters in Diagonal Street, so the noise of trading filled the whole building when the market got busy. From market open on 10 June all equity trading has been on the automated Johannesburg Equity Trading system. As volumes increased, stockbroker back offices talked about “how many feet of work do you have?” referring to the huge piles of share certificates and transfer forms stacked high on desks, while the motorcycle delivery drivers at the back of Diagonal Street and Kerk Street, Johannesburg, got ever busier.

Electronic clearing and settlement were urgently needed but the banks that dominate this aspect of capital markets had each invested in their own systems. They had further formed the Bond Market Association to create a self-regulating bond exchange in 1990 and had worked with the South African Reserve Bank the same year to form UNEXcor to set up an electronic settlement system using a CSD. The first fully electronic settlement through UNEXcor and the CSD (called CD Ltd) had been on 26 October 1995.

Monica, famous for long-term vision backed by unstoppable energy, was brought in to break the logjam and move the market forward in 1998. Gold-mining group Harmony was the first equity on the JSE to move to full dematerialization of securities in 1999 and the whole market followed in orderly stages.

According to a brochure by Strate a few years ago: “The transition to an efficient electronic-settlement system increased market activity and improved the international perception of the South African market by reducing settlement and operational risk in the market, increasing efficiency and ultimately reducing costs. Accordingly, by heightening investor appeal, Strate has enabled South Africa to compete effectively with other international markets and not just those of emerging markets.

“Since 2000, Strate has used the South African Financial Instruments Real-time Electronic Settlement system (SAFIRES), an adaptation of the Swiss securities settlement system (SECOM), operated by SIX SIS Ltd, to continuously provide investors with secure and efficient settlement of equities.”

UNEXcor merged with Strate in 2003 and as the platform became more aged, Strate began market consultation to replace the technology and move to a Securities Ownership Register for bonds.

Participants set up the Money Market Forum in 2002 for dematerialization of money-market securities and awarded the contract to do this to UNEXcor, which devolved to Strate after the merger. After extensive market consultation, Strate developed the business requirement and employed Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to develop the code. Successful testing was completed on 1 October 2008 and Rand Merchant Bank issued the first electronic security to Strate via FirstRand Bank in November 2008. Electronic settlement of newly issued money market securities began in the second half of 2009.

The latest transformation was the switch to T+3 settlement across the South African capital market, carried out successfully on 11 July 2016 and profiled on this blog.

South Africa’s securities exchange war goes to court

Court is the next battleground in a contest to transform the securities exchange landscape in South Africa. Newly licensed exchange 4AX, which is not yet operational, has launched a High Court application to set aside both the decisions of the FSB regulator and its Appeals Board to give a licence to new exchange ZAR X, according to Moneyweb .

Last September the Registrar of South Africa’s Financial Services Board (FSB) awarded licences to ZARX (Pty) Ltd (ZAR X) and 4 Africa Exchange (Pty) Ltd (4AX) (see our story here). The JSE and 4AX appealed against ZAR X’s licence, but in February 2017 the FSB Appeals Board dismissed the appeal, saying that ZARX and the FSB had complied fully with the Financial Markets Act 2012 (FMA), and awarding full costs to both ZARX and the FSB (see another Moneyweb article). ZAR X settled its first trade in February 2017, delayed from an initial September launch date. Its first listing was agribusiness Senwes. 4AX is not yet trading.

In February Donna Nemer, JSE Director of Capital Markets, said the JSE will fully respect and abide by the decision: “We are still very committed to the market and the participants in this market, and will cooperate fully in the debate on how we should be evolving going forward,” she said. “We will continue the work we are doing with the regulator and all the market participants, including the new exchanges, to maintain the high quality capital markets for which South Africa is really well known.” The JSE is not joining the new court case which 4AX has launched in the South Gauteng High Court to set aside both the decisions of the FSB Registrar and the FSB Appeals Board.

Also in waiting is exchange A2X, which has a licence application with the FSB. For more background on 4AX see our story.

Why another exchange?
The new bourse ZAR X has 3 listed securities and 9 authorized market participants or brokers, according to its website. It says a number of listings are in the pipeline.
According to Geoff Cook, cofounder and director of ZAR X, writing in Business Day newspaper this month: “Nowhere is radical change more desperately needed in SA than in the capital markets. The model that has dominated for more than 60 years is stagnant, with no broadening of the capital markets. It is also hopelessly skewed against the private investor.”
Volumes had grown of trading over the counter (OTC) in shares in black economic empowerment schemes for big companies such as MTN, Vodacom, Multichoice, Sasol and Imperial. Other OTC schemes were being operated as restricted shareholder platforms such as large agricultural cooperatives Senwes, TWK and KWV, while a few other companies sought liquidity at low cost for a limited spread of shareholders.

Geoff Cook, ZAR X Head Markets and Regulations (credit ZAR X)


ZAR X co-founder and CEO Etienne Nel created a platform called Equity Express for the OTC market. In July 2014 the FSB issued Board Notice #68 which effectively compels the OTC equity trading market to alter methodology and operate through a licensed exchange in terms of the FMA.
ZAR X works with a pre-funded model, so that cash is prepaid (deposited into the system before a trade) and a seller’s shareholding is pre-cleared before concluding a transaction. This means a huge reduction in settlement risk. Securities are held in a segregated depository account at a central securities depository (CSD), as required by the FMA, with a CSD participant facilitating clearing. The trade settles on t+0 or real time.
According to Cook: “Only severe disruption will return the financial markets to any sense of reality and social relevance. That disruption has arrived. Brokers can now execute a R1,000 order profitably through a world-leading T+0 prefunded execution model that does not require settlement risk capital, in which trading and administration applications are provided at minimal cost and where live data is free to all. Safe custody fees are zero and fees are only paid on conclusion of a transaction.
“The equity market is too concentrated and the debt market remains inaccessible and opaque. Despite there being nearly 1,300 collective investment schemes as well as many broker-managed discretionary portfolios, allocations are nearly all aligned to a limited number of old economy securities. Passive investment products such as index trackers simply compound the concentration.”
Cook says that regulation and the funding imbalance towards collective investment schemes means innovative small and medium and medium-sized companies will struggle to raise capital from asset managers. They need direct access to retail investors or bespoke asset managers who can invest smaller amounts. Asset managers are restricted by the size of their portfolios to investing in securities with large market capitalization.
He says the new exchange will mean that listings of companies with market capitalization of around R200m will become more common.
Cook claims that on average less than 0.5% of daily market volume on the JSE is retail-driven with less than 300,000 active retail clients, across all brokers, loaded within the JSE’s broker deal accounting (BDA) system. He says 30% of trading volume comes from brokers who collocated or moved their trading systems physically closer to the JSE trading engine in order to profit by millisecond time advantages. According to its website: “No high frequency trading, derivatives or short selling will be allowed. ZAR X has deliberately structured fees in such a manner that we wish to encourage investing rather than trading and, in so doing, promote savings.”
“Nearly all equity listings om the JSE are now done by way of private placement, which requires a minimum investment of R100,000 per subscriber. Offers to the public are rare as brokers in the conventional system cannot facilitate smaller retail client transactions profitably. With high costs and insufficient order flow brokers focus on providing discretionary managed portfolios, which attract higher fees but have higher financial entry requirements.
“The ‘uninvested’ retail investor is therefore totally excluded from directly participating in the capital market. Their only access is indirectly via a collective investment scheme that, if they did, would further perpetuate the shrinking of our capital market.
“The concentration of order flows to fewer institutional brokers is detrimental to efficient and transparent market pricing. With thin net margins, institutional brokers use their balance sheets to secure revenue flow by engaging in principal trading, high-frequency trading (HFT), and facilitation trading, including dark pools.”

Stokvels – South Africa’s $3.8bn savings pool
Cook claims there is huge potential for retail investors to buy securities: “Stokvels, whose members are active savers and investors, have more than 2m members. The Zion Christian Church has about 4-million contributing members. The potential size of the ’uninvested’ retail market is unknown, but I would suggest it is in excess of R700bn. The market system has ignored it.”
ZAR X also hopes to work with other exchanges “particularly in Africa”.
Stokvels are a big part of life in South Africa, with estimated 810,000 stokvels and 11.5m members, with a stokvel economy worth R49bn ($3.8bn), according to the National Stokvel Association of South Africa. There is even a comedy show called Stokvel on DSTV’s Zambezi Magic.

Stokvel comedy, Zambezi Magic DSTV.

Latest on developments in African capital markets

Presentations from the exciting Building African Financial Markets (BAFM) seminar are now available on the Internet. The 6th edition of BAFM was hosted the first time in North Africa by the Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE) in Morocco on 18-19 May, 2017. The seminars are organized with the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA).

The theme of the event was “Global Best Practices to Enhance the African Capital Markets”, I was compere and there were many top presentations which you can download here. It provided a great platform for sharing information and discussing best ways the exchanges can support Africa’s needs for long-term capital.

According to the host, Karim Hajji, Deputy President of ASEA and CEO of the Casablanca Bourse: “The Casablanca Stock Exchange is more than ever before convinced of the important role of African exchanges in mobilizing the means for financing the continent’s growth. BAFM is indeed an opportunity to consider new paths of cooperation and enhance synergies so as to improve the role of Exchanges in financing the African economy.”

BAFM is a capacity-building initiative designed to promote growth in African financial markets. The Casablanca meeting attracted more than 100 delegates from within and outside Africa. There were very many top speakers including: Abimbola Ogunbanjo (First Vice President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange), Ronald Webb (Director – Financial Services, Safaricom Ltd), Riccardo Ambrosini, (Climate Finance Specialist, IFC World Bank Group) and Selloua Chakri (Head of Market Structure Strategy MEA Region, Bloomberg L.P.).
This high-level meeting provided a.

Oscar N. Onyema, President of ASEA and CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, said; “Building the African financial market is our collective responsibility, hence we must seek out knowledge that empowers each of us to remove impediments to the advancement of our market.”

To view the presentations as well as the pictures of the Seminar, please visit http://www.african-exchanges.org/sites/default/files/publications/building_african_financial_markets.pdf and http://www.african-exchanges.org/en/media#contentCarousel/gallery respectively.