Archive for the 'Liquidity' Category

Small African stock exchanges are likely to stay small

The Economist magazine says most African stock exchanges are small and likely to stay that way. It says few smaller, family-owned businesses, are keen to list on African stock exchanges and that liquidity or secondary trading is an “even bigger challenge” with few African exchanges achieving turnover (share value traded) of even 10% of market capitalization (the value of shares listed).

The magazine cites a recent paper by economists from Erasmus University, Rotterdam, and City University, London. They investigate 59 nascent stock exchanges around the world. They find that exchanges which start small, with few listings and low turnover, tend to remain so. The best chance for success comes from strong banks and growing savings, meaning that many African exchanges might need to wait until their economies grow.

Source: The Economist with figures from World Federation of Exchanges

Several African exchanges are big enough to move forward, including Johannesburg Stock Exchange with nearly $1 trn in market capitalization, Nigeria Stock Exchange and Kenya’s Nairobi Securities Exchange. The article also points to the successful regionalization project that is the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM), headquartered in Côte d’Ivoire and bringing together 8 national markets to create more investors and more listed stocks.

The article was written after the author attended last month’s 2016 African Securities Exchanges Association conference in Rwanda and watching the brokers in scarlet jackets at the trading board of the Rwanda Stock Exchange in Kigali. It says most African exchanges were created in the 1990s to help with the sale or privatization of state-owned enterprises. Many of these have been turned from loss making drains into high profit giants, driving economies, creating jobs and making investors including local institutions richer.

On the Uganda Securities Exchange, 7 out of 8 domestic listings are from privatizations, and many other exchanges tell the same story. Botswana’s national telco was the BSE’s biggest IPO when it came to market successfully this year. Others are forcing companies to list, for instance telecom companies and mining companies are key targets and listing can be forced through respective licensing of other regulations. Tanzania has reportedly ordered 8 telcos, including 3 offshoots of international companies, to float 28% of shares and MTN is likely to list on the Nigerian bourse in a deal with the telecoms regulator.

Meanwhile private equity continues to flourish in Africa. There could be a positive spin-off in terms of private equity funds using stock exchanges as exits to sell on to new funds and through IPOs. The article does not touch on one of the most interesting trends, the rise of African institutional investors and the effect they could have on capital markets development.

For the original Economist article, read here.

Ethos Capital PE lists after R1.8bn oversubscribed private placement

Private equity company Ethos Capital, based in Mauritius, listed on South Africa’s JSE on 5 August after R1.8 billion ($131 million) oversubscribed private placement for institutional investors. The listing is a unique combination of a liquid listed share which invests into a diversified pool of unlisted private equity investments. It is aimed particularly at institutional investors, including pension funds.
Ethos had placed 180m A ordinary shares at R10.00 each. Rand Merchant Bank was the financial advisor, sole global coordinator, bookrunner and JSE sponsor. The first trade on Friday was at R10.26, pushing market capitalization up to R1.85bn.
The new fund starts as a cash shell and will invest into a portfolio of unlisted investments with Ethos Private Equity, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest private equity firm, acting as the new company’s fund manager and advisor.
Stuart MacKenzie, CEO of Ethos Private Equity, said in a press release: “Growth is a central principle of Ethos Private Equity’s strategy: value is added by actively transforming the strategy, operations and finances of investee businesses, striving to make them best-in-class. Through pioneering thought leadership, creativity and innovation, Ethos Private Equity has developed a long track record of sustainable investor returns.”
Peter Hayward-Butt, CEO at Ethos Capital, said: “We look forward to investing alongside Ethos Private Equity into high-potential businesses, supporting economic growth and job creation in the long term whilst simultaneously delivering value to our shareholders.”
Ethos Private Equity has a 32-year history and has invested in 104 acquisitions of which 91 have been realized, delivering investment returns with a gross realised internal rate of return (IRR) of 37.4%.

Stuart Mackenzie, CEO Ethos Private Equity

Stuart Mackenzie, CEO Ethos Private Equity

Ethos Capital is expected to invest into:
• Primary investments into various funds to be raised and managed by Ethos Private Equity. EPE is reported to be planning to fund raise for Ethos VII fund by early 2017, targeting R8bn-R10bn with 25% for investments in sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa. Ethos Capital is to commit up to R2.5bn. There is also plans for: a R2.5bn-R3bn Ethos Mid Market Fund I targeting deals of between R100m-R350m which will be majority black-owned and chaired by Sonja de Bruyn Sebotsa, according to Financial Mail, and Ethos Mezzanine Fund I which aims to raise R1.5bn and will be run by a team which formerly operated as Mezzanine Partners.
• Secondary investments by buying interests owned by limited partners (LPs) in existing Ethos funds. This could include up to $600m invested into Ethos VI fund which closed at $800m in 2013 (against a $750m target), according to Private Equity Africa website.
• Direct investments into investee companies alongside Ethos funds
• Temporary investments including a portfolio of low-risk, liquid debt instruments such as South African government bonds and similar instruments, managed by Ashburton Fund Managers.
According to the prospectus, Ethos Capital investors will be charged a management fee of 1.5% of invested net asset value and 0.25% on cash balances. The investors are offered 20% exposure to growth, subject to a 10% hurdle.
Previously Brait, another leading South African private equity company, had listed its portfolio.
Mackenzie says South Africa does not have enough investments in alternative assets such as private equity, according to the Financial Mail, which reports they make up barely 2% of pension fund assets compared with 20% in many developed markets. The listed vehicle will enable funds to share in the outperformance of private equity but will mean they do not have to stay invested for the full fund life, often 10 years.
The report adds that Mackenzie promises investors will not be subjected to a double layer of fees and that Ethos Fund III and IV outperformed listed markets by more than 5% but Fund V, invested in the years before the financial crisis, underperformed listed markets by 2.4%.
A report by RisCura and the SA Venture Capital Association (Savca) shows that private equity in South Africa has generally outperformed the total comparative return of investment of the JSE’s all share and SWIX indices, returning an internal rate of return of 18.5 percent. Over the same period, EPE returned 20.9 percent on realised investments.
Key investors in the private placing reportedly included fund manager giants such as Coronation and Stanlib and emerging managers such as Mergence and Sentio.

BRVM securities exchange strategy dialogue with US frontier funds

New York, May 12: Sixteen new listings, spurred by privatizations and private equity fund exits, are a key target for Africa’s top-performing securities exchange. The Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM), headquartered in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, is among the world’s most successful integrated regional exchanges, linking eight West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo).

In New York this week, 30 US frontier investors, stockbrokers and market specialists joined Mr. Edoh Kossi Amenounve, CEO of BRVM, in a strategic dialogue. Suggestions from the Americans included lower stockbroker commissions, more listings, liquidity, and stepping up listed company reporting to international financial reporting standards (IFRS).

The BRVM has 36 listed bonds and 39 listed companies, and expects four new listings in 2016, following initial public offers (IPOs). In 2015, the BRVM Composite Index rose by 17.77% making it Africa’s top-performing equity index to foreign investors.

Amenounve says: “Most of the economies are not badly affected by the oil price. They are growing through regional linkages. We saw 6.6% GDP growth in our markets in 2015 and expect 7.2% this year. BRVM is different from other markets as our currency, the CFA franc, is pegged to the value of the euro. We offer yield, without the high volatility seen in other African markets.”

The value of trading on the BRVM exchange rose 48% in 2015. Amenounve says local participation is growing even faster: “More and more citizens are becoming shareholders, which is the best way for our people to take ownership of our growth drivers and means of production. In 2012 foreign investors made up 55% of the trading, but the local share had risen to 75% by 2015, of much bigger trading volumes. In 2011, domestic collective investment schemes managed XOF 30bn of assets, but by the end of 2015 that was XOF 600bn, a 20-fold increase.”

Amenounve is leading plans to integrate five West African markets – Nigeria, Ghana, BRVM, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone – by 2020 to form Africa’s second biggest exchange after Johannesburg, with 273 listed companies and 233 brokerage firms. He has been Chairman of the West African Capital Markets Integration Council (WACMIC) since March 2015 and explained the three-step plan for integration:
* Phase 1 is sponsored access for brokerage firms, which was launched in July 2015 and has seen several transactions between Ghana and Nigeria.
* Phase 2 will be a “common passport”, giving a regional stockbroker direct access to any market.
* Phase 3 will be to follow the Euronext model, with a single trading platform and a single order book for all the markets.

The BRVM is Africa’s sixth securities exchange by market capitalization ($12.8 billion for equities and $2.7 billion debt) in 2015. It represents an economic area of more than 100 million consumers, with fast, diversified growth. See more at: www.brvm.org.

The meeting was organized by AZ Media in New York and ourselves, African Growth Partners Ltd.

Edoh Kossi Amenounve, CEO of BRVM exchange

Edoh Kossi Amenounve, CEO of BRVM exchange

What are Africa’s pension funds investing into?

Do you agree or disagree with this view? Comments are welcome below

Pension funds in 10 African countries already have $379 billion in assets under management – 85% or $322bn of it based in South Africa – and they continue to grow very fast. That means careful thinking about how to nurture Africa’s savings pool while the need to deploy these resources most productively puts the spotlight on the search for quality investment assets.

For example, Ghana’s pension fund industry reached $2.6bn by Dec 2013 after growing 400% from 2008 to 2014. Nigeria’s industry has tripled in the last 5 years to some $25bn in assets by De 2013, and assets under management are growing at 30% a year. There are 6 million contributors, but many more Nigerians still to sign up pensions.

Pensions have a special place in the capital market as they take a longer-term view and can be patient in the hope of greater returns. Some pension funds, in Africa and elsewhere, argue that pensioners are not just looking at the value of their retirement income but also the quality of their lives, opening the way to carefully chosen investments in infrastructure, healthcare and other benefits which pensioners and their families might enjoy.

What are the African factors driving the growth of pension funds?
• Many countries have set up new regulators and even more are introducing regulations, including forcing more employers to provide pensions. With the new regulatory frameworks come structural changes such as the need for professional third party asset managers
• Changing demographics: The age group over 60 years is the most rapidly increasing, according to some research
• It’s a virtuous circle, many Africans want savings opportunities. If pension funds produce results, and are well run and good at communicating, people will respond.

The growth is only beginning. So far only 5%-10% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa are thought to be covered by pension funds and 80% in North Africa. Pension funds are still tiny in comparison to gross domestic product (GDP), which in turn is growing fast in many African countries – for example pension funds are about 5% of GDP in Nigeria, compared to 170% of GDP in Netherlands, 131% in UK and 113% in America.

Southern Africa is generally better served: Namibia has some $10bn in pension assets representing 80% of GDP and Botswana $6bn or 42% of GDP. The biggest pension schemes are usually government and social-security funds as well as local government and parastatal funds (such as Eskom in South Africa), as well as those of big corporations and multinationals.

Economist Charles Robertson of Renaissance Capital says conservatively that pension funds in the 6 largest sub-Saharan African markets will grow to $622bn in assets by 2020 and to $7.3 trillion by 2050.

What to invest in?

The challenge is how to invest the capital productively. Are Africa’s entrepreneurs, corporate finance and investment banking houses and capital markets rising to the challenge of bringing a a strong pipeline of investment-ready projects to keep up demand for capital?

Capital markets need to offer liquidity and transparency both to channel the foreign capital looking for African growth opportunities for their portfolios and now for domestic funds too. Liquidity can be a key problem, even in Africa’s world-beating Johannesburg Stock Exchange, where the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) is thought to account for 13% of market capitalization and to be the country’s biggest investor in commercial property.

Big funds in small other Southern African capital market swamps can be like hungry hippos, snapping up promising new investments as they surface. Even if they feel satisfied from a good run of success on some of these investments, they can hardly disgorge them back into the liquidity pool for other traders because of the gnawing fear they would not find other local investments to fill their bulging portfolios.

Others share the worry. Eyamba Nzekwu of Nigeria’s Pencom was reported as saying: “Savings are growing much faster than products are being brought to the market to absorb these funds”. Pension fund growth is thought to have contributed to a 79% surge in Ghana stock market in 2013 as funds chased too few investments.

Regulators should encourage the fund-managers to upgrade skills fast to be more proactive in picking and trading stocks and African fixed income. They should also widen the space in the interests of helping the markets and the funds to grow through liquidity. This means, for instance instance, urgently relooking restrictions on cross-border investments, including into other African markets.

Private equity and infrastructure

The pension funds provide a huge opportunity for alternative assets, especially private equity. According to research by the African Development Bank’s Making Finance Work for Africa and the Commonwealth Secretariat, African pension funds are estimated to have invested some $3.8bn-$5.7bn in private equity and to have scope to invest another $29bn (see table below). Many countries are passing new regulations to allow investment into private equity and other unlisted investments. Funds have been experimenting – sometimes disastrously – with small and medium enterprise and other developmental investments.

table50313_pensions

International private equity fund managers such as Helios and LeapFrog have also seen the future, making investment in pension fund providers – Helios took equity in Nigeria’s ARM Pension Fund Managers and LeapFrog into Ghana’s Petra Trust.

Africa has huge need for infrastructure finance and pension funds could be the ideal pool of patient capital but more work needs to be done to increase the supply of investable projects and to increase capacity of pension funds to invest in projects directly or through infrastructure fund managers.

Savings are good for growth, provided there are productive assets for them to go into. Africa’s savings are rising, often driven by regulation, and international interest has been strong for years. Can Africa’s entrepreneurs, their advisors, private equity funds and the capital markets institutions rise to the challenge of building a big enough pipeline of great investment opportunities suited to the needs of these investors?

For more reading:
This article is heavily based on work by: Ashiagbor, David, Nadiya Satyamurthy, Mike Casey and Joevas Asare (2014). “Pension Funds and Private Equity: Unlocking Africa’s Potential”. Making Finance Work for Africa, Emerging Markets Private Equity Association. London. Commonwealth Secretariat. Available through MFW4A.
Another book is by Robertson, Charles (2012). “The Fastest Billion: The Story Behind Africa’s Economic Revolution”. Renaissance Capital. Read more here or buy it on Amazon (link brings revenue to this site).
Other articles are at The Economist on Nigeria’s pensions, African Business and Wall Street Journal.

New global rules for collective schemes from IOSCO

The International Organization of Securities Commissions (www.iosco.org) published today (4 March) a report on liquidity risk management for collective investment schemes (CIS). This aims to make sure in particular that open-ended funds (where people can sell their units back to the fund when they want their money back) can meet their obligations for redemptions and other liabilities.
Liquidity has been a major preoccupation for regulators in many financial industries since the outbreak of the global financial crisis. But discussions have mostly focused on liquidity in banking.
Today’s report is Principles of Liquidity Risk Management for Collective Investment Schemes and contains principles against which both the industry and regulators can assess the quality of regulation and industry practices. Good liquidity risk management is key in correct operation of a CIS.
The principles are structured according to the time frame of a CIS’s life: first principles to be considered in the design (pre-launch) phase of a CIS; then principles that should form part of the day-to-day liquidity risk management process. When industry is implementing the principles, they will have to rewrite (“transpose”) them while taking into account the local regulatory framework
IOSCO had previously published (Jan 2012) a report on Principles on Suspensions of Redemptions in Collective Investment Schemes which covers exceptional circumstances where a liquidity problem may lead a CIS to temporarily suspend all investor redemptions.
IOSCO is the leading international policy forum for securities regulators and is the global standard setter for securities regulation. The organization’s membership regulates more than 95% of the world’s securities markets in 115 jurisdictions and it continues to expand. Its Board is the governing and standard-setting body and is made up of 32 securities regulators and chaired by Masamichi Kono, Vice Commissioner for International Affairs at the Financial Services Agency of Japan (JFSA). Members are the securities regulatory authorities of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Ontario, Pakistan, Portugal, Quebec, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.

Nigerian Stock Exchange launches market-making today

Today (18 Sept) the Nigerian Stock Exchange is to launch its market-making programme, according to its press release. This will be a hybrid process, with market makers offering 2-way (buy-sell) price quotes in selected securities and a continuation of the current process in which licensed broker/dealers of the NSE submit orders.

The launch follows drawing up rules and operational guidelines. Role-players such as market makers, securities lenders, short sellers, settlement banks, pension fund administrators, insurance companies and listed companies have been trained, including in an 11 Sept workshop.

According to Bloomberg, citing stockbroker Securities Africa Ltd, price bandwidth movement has been increased to 10% for stocks that have market makers assigned to them, instead of the current 5%. Bloomberg cites David Adonri, CEO of Lagos-based Lambeth Trust and Investment Co: “Brokers have been informed of the new limit which is intended to make market making function properly, as widening the price band will enable market makers to recoup investments in stocks, cover risk and remain in business.”

Olumide Lala, the Head, Transformation and Change of the NSE, said that market makers will provide 2-way quotes (buy and sell prices) for the securities that they are making markets on. They will be able to leverage the securities lending process and borrow to settle “buy order imbalances” from customers. Investors will be able to use the securities lending processes to earn returns on their “idle” stocks whilst contributing significantly to market liquidity and price efficiency through legitimate investment activity in covered short selling.

The Nigerian bourse announced the names of the 10 broker/dealer firms selected as market makers on the trading floor of the NSE at the start of April 2012, after a rigorous selection process. Oscar Onyema, CEO of the NSE, described it as a major landmark in enhancing the liquidity and depth of the second largest market in sub-Saharan Africa: “This is a great milestone and a major step in the direction of turning the market round to have liquidity and depth back into the market. We will continue to move forward on this”.

The 10 stock-broking firms selected from a list of 20 that applied were: Stanbic IBTC, Renaissance Capital, Future View Securities, Vetiva Capital, ESS/DunnLoren Merrifield, WSTC, Capital Bancorp, FBN Securities, Greenwich Securities and CSL Stockbrokers.

According to Onyema: “The companies selected went through a very rigorous process and met the minimum net capital requirement of N570 million ($3.6m). We also examined their compliance history and looked into their operational capabilities including their technology and processes. The selected firms were taken through trainings, debated the appropriate market structure to be used and The Exchange further went through the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the selection process.” The April announcement also included the selection of a basket of quoted companies in which the financial intermediaries would provide the desired level of liquidity via a blind draw.

CoSSE (Committee of SADC Stock Exchanges) launch new website for data and news

The Committee of SADC Stock Exchanges (CoSSE) has launched a website as part of a drive to create more liquidity in the southern African stock exchanges through better data and visibility for  the exchanges. The new website (www.cossesadc.org) was launched on 19 April.

CoSSE has 10 members: the exchanges of Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was established in 1997 and is a collective and co-operative body of the various stock exchanges in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It forms part of SADC structures as it has a formal status under the SADC Finance and Investment Protocol (FIP). The objectives are:

  • To improve the operational, regulatory and technical requirement underpinnings and capabilities of SADC exchanges
  • To make the securities markets of SADC exchanges more attractive to both regional and international investors
  • To increase market liquidity and enhance trading in various securities and financial instruments
  • To promote the development of efficient, fair and transparent securities markets within the SADC region
  • To encourage the transfer of securities markets’ intellectual capital and technical expertise among the member countries of CoSSE
  • To encourage interaction among market participants
  • To encourage the development of a harmonised securities market environment within the SADC region
  • To maximise co-operation among CoSSE members.

The new website is hosted and maintained by a leading South African data vendor I-Net Bridge.  The company has been extending its footprint into Africa to provide investors with accurate, timely and reliable African financial data. Where it is available, the firm provides information from over 18 African countries, including equity and index data from the exchanges, a range of African economic time series, annual company financial statements and company news through their various professional and corporate-solutions products. Stephen Phillips of I-NET Bridge says: “It is I-Net Bridge’s goal to become the preferred supplier of African content globally and assist in generating interest and liquidity to all African exchanges”.

The new chair of CoSSE is Beatrice Nkanza, chair of the Lusaka Stock Exchange, taking over after the term of Emmanuel Munyukwi, CEO of the Zimbabwe bourse. Gabriel Kitua, CEO of the Dar es Salaam SE, was elected vice-chair. The meeting, held at the JSE Ltd in Johannesburg, also discussed business plans for regional cooperation.

Is lack of liquidity driving African issuers to list on London Stock Exchange and others?

Reuters newsagency has put together stories on issuers’ and investors’ difficulties with African stock markets. These include lack of liquidity and sinking currencies. It notes that African companies are increasingly dual listing on international stock exchanges.
“Liquidity: the scourge of African stock pickers” quotes a range of institutional investors complaining that liquidity is a major constraint on markets such as Malawi Stock Exchange. According to the article: “Poor but fast-growing, Malawi and other sub-Saharan African countries would offer huge opportunities to international equity investors – if it weren’t for the liquidity scourge. Markets across the continent are hampered by a lack of liquidity, making it nearly impossible to take stakes in all but the biggest firms. “With the exception of South Africa, we feel all sub-Saharan African (markets) are illiquid,” said Ronak Gadhia, Africa equities research analyst at London-based frontier markets specialist Exotix. “Most of our investors are unable to invest outside the big 2 markets, and even then their investable universe is usually the largest 5-10 stocks,” he said, referring to the Nigerian Stock Exchange and Kenya’s Nairobi Securities Exchange, the two biggest markets outside Johannesburg.
It notes that Sonatel, the giant of the BRVM West African regional securities exchange, is concerned about liquidity on that market and thinking about a secondary listing. An earlier story said the pressure comes from investors.
“Africa’s growing firms shun Jo’burg for London” suggests that even when companies are thinking about dual-listing, they head to the London Stock Exchange or AIM market and don’t consider Johannesburg. The article quotes Zambeef executive director Yusuf Koya: “It was a tough decision. A key factor in the decision process was London’s reputation as the world’s financial centre, which allows us to access a potentially wider range of investors and liquidity.”
According to the article: “A total of 104 African companies are listed on the London exchange, with the majority on AIM. The combined market value of African companies listed in London is now bigger than every African exchange except Johannesburg. Just under $2.1 billion was raised by African companies on the London bourse in 19 transactions in 2010, representing about 90 percent of all equity capital raised by Africa-focused companies in 2010, said Ibukun Adebayo, the LSE’s head of equity primary markets. Dual listings are critical for companies that outgrow their home exchanges, where thin liquidity keeps large investors out. Big bourses such as London and Johannesburg also boast tougher disclosure requirements, reassuring investors concerned about Africa’s corporate governance.”
It also cites bankers that London-based investors tend to have a bigger appetite for emerging market assets than their South African counterparts and quotes a private equity manager: “South African investors don’t understand Africa risk in the same way UK investors do.” It also suggests London may be an easier sell to international investors unfamiliar with Johannesburg. Nicky Newton-King, incoming CEO of South Africa’s JSE Ltd, says Johannesburg offers a world-class standard of disclosure for a lower price and less hassle than London: “You can come to the JSE, you can raise the money here, and your shares will be traded in a very liquid environment, a very respected environment. Without going through the costs and the hoops of listing in London, but with exactly the same standards.”
African investment institutions are just starting to rise, it could be a great time to heed the call from ASEA Chairman Sunil Benimadhu for African securities exchanges to find ways to get more liquid. SADC Stock Exchanges already have a workable model, but what will cause anyone to initiate the change to move onto the next level before many more firms move activity to London , New York or elsewhere?

JSE sets new trading record – 230,797 trades on 10 August

South Africa’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange (www.jse.co.za) says that a record number of trades were executed on the exchange today (10 August). The JSE is the biggest securities market in Africa and its new trading record is 230,797 trades, valued at more than R29 billion ($4 bn).
The JSE FTSE All Share index rose 267 points to close at 28,658. The volume of shares traded was 531.5 million shares), according to a press release.
Head of Equities Trade, Leanne Parsons, said: “The JSE’s equity market moved sharply today, after yesterday’s holiday and following big moves on world markets. Our new record, of 230,797 trades, marks a 12% increase on our previous record of 205,784 transactions. That is a significant jump.”