Archive for the 'Namibia' Category
May 13th, 2013 by Tom Minney
African countries (apart from South Africa) are set to place $7 billion of debt this year, buoyed by low interest rates and a huge global appetite. According to this article in Bloomberg Businessweek by Roben Farzad, this year’s debt issues will be more than the previous 5 years combined and African capital markets are feeling the boom.
No wonder international investors who are “grabbing for yield and growth” (according to Farzad) are looking to Africa which the International Monetary Fund forecasts will grow at 5.6% this year against 1.2% in developed countries. But Africa’s terrible infrastructure, including electricity, bridges, roads and wastewater treatment, is costing African sat least 2 percentage points of growth. Some of the new bond proceeds are likely to go on infrastructure, which needs investments of up to $93 billion a year.
The article cites research from JP Morgan Chase that average yields on African debt fell 88 basis points in the past 12 months, to 4.35%. “Nigeria, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Namibia, the Congo, Senegal, and the Seychelles have all seen their borrowing costs fall this year.”
“It’s a hugely exciting story,” Jim O’Neill, the chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management who plans to retire this year, said in an April 23 interview with Bloomberg Television in London, writes Bloomberg reporter Chris Kay: “The only thing one has to be a little bit careful of are many of those markets are still very undeveloped and suddenly there’s a lot of people around the world regarding Africa to be sort of fashionable and trendy.”
Farzad wonders how easy it will be to “service so much easy-money debt when the credit cycle turns, or if commodities and political stability decline. At least for now, though, you get the impression that sub-Saharan Africa has turned a corner in global capital markets.” And journalist Chris Kay quotes Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital: “For governments, great, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I still don’t believe investors are getting risk-adjusted returns in the dollar-bond space.”
According to Kay, debt-forgiveness programmes have helped 45 African nations cut debt to about 42% of gross domestic product this year from an average 120% in 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and IMF estimates. South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says debt will peak at 40% of GDP in 2016, compared with more than 100% for the U.S. and an average 93% in the eurozone.
Another reason why Africa offers lower risk is that taxpayers have no expectations of massive social and other spending in nearly all countries. Meanwhile global appetites are shown by the $20 trillion reportedly invested in debt at less than 1% yield.
Some potential issues
Nigeria planning to offer $1bn in Eurobonds and a $500m Diaspora bond, according to Minister of State for Finance Yerima Ngama. It was recently included in JP Morgan and Barclays local bond indices. Yields on the existing $500m Eurobond, due 2021, were down to 4.05% by 3 May, from a peak of 7.30% in October 2011.
Kenya really boosted investor confidence in Africa with its peaceful outcome after elections on 4 March and the Finance Minister Robinson Githae said on 11 March they could be in line to issue up to $1bn by September.
Ghana fuelled by an oil boom, has seen its debt yields on the 10-year bonds down 3.43 percentage points to 4.82% since their issue in October 2007, said Bloomberg.
Zambia successfully raised $750m last year at 5.625% and is thinking to return for another $1bn. Yields were up 20 basis points to 5.66% by 3 May.
Tanzania has asked Citigroup to help it get a credit rating before issuing a maiden Eurobond of at least $500m. Finance Minister William Mgimwa said a total of $2.5bn was bid for a private offering of $600m of Government debt in March. According to this story on Reuters that bond’s pricing and structure at the time had shocked markets and appeared to benefit investors: “The cheaply priced US$600m seven-year private placement was described as a “disaster” by one banker. And certainly the immediate secondary market performance looked terrible. The bonds jumped 2.75 points on their first day of trading.. That works out at a cost to the government of US$4m a year in coupon payments, assuming that the bonds could have priced at the tighter level.”
Angola did a private sale of $1bn in debt in 2012 and will go for $2 billion this year, according to Andrey Kostin Chairman of VTB Bank OJSC, who helped arrange the first issuance, last October.
Mozambique and Uganda may also issue foreign currency bonds of $500m each, according to Moody’s last October.
Gabon’s $1bn of dollar bonds are down 4.78 percentage points to 3.13% since they were issued in December 2007.
December 14th, 2012 by Tom Minney
Africa’s 24 stock markets should learn to work together better if they are to seize high levels of investor interest, said Nicky Newton-King, CEO of South Africa’s JSE Ltd (www.jse.co.za), Africa’s biggest securities exchange. She was speaking in an interview with agency AFP.
“The appetite for Africa is very, very high. I think everybody is trying to find their way, to participate meaningfully in that. All of us who are privileged enough to run exchanges, need to figure out that these waves of investor appetite aren’t yours by right. Once they come you have to be able to ride them properly. We should not be taking this as business as usual, this is a business opportunity.”
The International Monetary Fund forecasts the aggregate economy of sub-Saharan Africa will grow at around 5.7% next year, presenting a giant opportunity.
Newton-King said on 7 Dec that one way to channel the investor interest through African markets would be to make it easier to invest across borders and to improve liquidity in small markets so that assets can be bought and sold quickly.
The JSE already works closely with the Namibian Stock Exchange (www.nsx.com.na) and she said it is looking to make deals with two other African bourses. She said that creating a single pan-African bourse is not currently on the agenda and the JSE is concentrating on improving the continent’s financial plumbing including allowing cross- and dual-listings and easier order-routing.
“I think it is far more about collaboration. Were we not to have any exchanges on the continent I think we would have wanted to create a single exchange that would service multiple jurisdictions out of one legal base. That’s the most efficient way to do it, but I’m a bit of a realist. Once you try to do cross-border mergers and acquisitions, you run into much more trenchant issues of a regulatory nature, all of which stem from ‘how do we protect the local investor?’, ‘how do we make sure the local market grows?”
Newton-King identified liquidity as a key challenge to attract foreign investors: “Really big trades are not going to go to illiquid markets. The average day’s trade on the JSE is more than the average annual trade on Kenya and Mauritius put together. There are amazing companies in both of those countries.”
She said that allowing Kenyans to invest in joint-listed South African stock in KES shillings, or by allowing South Africans to more easily place orders into Nigerian stock markets would attract more foreign investors. She adds that there are benefits from cross-listing (securities being traded on more than one exchange), as the JSE learned when its leading shares moved to London: “When Anglo-American cross-listed in London, the amount of trades in Anglo-American increased. South Africa’s percentage of trade in Anglo-American decreased, but the decreased percentage was worth more. In those cases you have to think quite bravely.”
She was echoing a theme about Africa’s securities exchanges needing to become more liquid to serve the growing needs both of investors and of enterprises seeking capital.This theme has been strongly stressed by Sunil Benimadhu, CEO of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius, since he took over as Presdient of the African Securities Exchanges Association in October 2010, as reported on this blog.
The JSE has consistently offered to work closely to help other exchanges to develop and the author of this blog was GM of NSX when it linked its trading and broker systems in 1998-9. Exchanges in Southern Africa and in East Africa are stepping up the pace of collaboration. The Committee of SADC Stock Exchanges (COSSE) is working to forge more links,improve technology and other connections and take other steps to improve markets and boost liquidity, as reported here.
“Nigeria the new gateway to African capital markets”
The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE – www.nse.com.ng) aims to transform Nigeria into the gateway of African capital markets. Oscar Onyema, CEO of the NSE, on 12 Dec said this at a national competition for secondary and tertiary schools and colleges in Lagos. Priorities for the NSE management in 2013 will continue to be innovations in technology and new product development. Onyema promised more technology-based solutions and data services and said the NSE would advocate changes in policy and would also continue cleaning and restructuring, and making the market accessible.
November 29th, 2012 by Tom Minney
New giants are arising in African investments – the domestic pension funds. In Nigeria the National Pensions Commission (PenCom) estimated registered pensions to be worth US$14bn in June 2011, with asset values up by 8% in three months; Namibia’s Government Institutions Pension Fund alone is worth some $6bn; South Africa’s pension funds grew at a compound annual growth rate of 14.3% in US dollar terms over 10 years to December 2010, including over 28% in 2010 and Tanzania’s pension industry was audited at $2.1bn for 2010, and growing by 25% a year.
The number of pensioners is set to soar, according to United Nations figures, as the number of people over 60 years in Africa will rise from 55m in 2010 to 213m by 2050, compared to 236m Europeans over 60 years old by 2050. Current pension funds cover only 5%-10% of Africans ranging from 3% in Niger but it used to be 80% in North African countries such as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Pensions are not available at all in some countries.
Regulatory reforms are driving the growth of African pensions. Recent reformers include Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda. Ghana created a National Pensions Authority with a 2010 act. Reform in Kenya, including investment guidelines and a new regulator, resulted in strong growth and good investment returns. Tanzania passed the Social Security Regulatory Act in 2008. The rising pension industry is likely to boost fund management and equity industries, exits for private equity and even to fill some of the $45bn annual funding gap for infrastructure. For instance, In January 2012, Tanzania’s National Social Security Fund signed an agreement to finance 60% of the $137m cost of building Kigamboni Bridge. South Africa’s $130bn Government Employees Pension Fund is a major investor in the Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund which raised $625m in 2007 and is targeting $1bn on its second offering.
For more details on Africa’s pension industry, please check my article published in The Africa Report magazine and website, here is the link www.theafricareport.com and for brief profiles of 6 giant African funds, check here.
October 30th, 2012 by Tom Minney
A new CEO will start at the Namibian Stock Exchange ( www.nsx.com.na) on 1 January 2013. Sebby Kankondi, Chairman of the NSX, has announced that the Board of the NSX has appointed Tiaan Bazuin. He replaces John Mandy, who has already reached retirement age.
Bazuin joined the NSX in 2011 as Listings Manager, was identified as a potential CEO during the recruitment process. His qualifications include a B.Comm (Economics) and LLB (Law) from North-West University in South Africa and he was admitted as a Legal Practitioner in the High Court of Namibia in 2006. He has broad experience in regulatory compliance, finance and business development having previously worked as corporate banker, company secretary and chief legal officer, including with Bank Windhoek and telecommunication company leo Namibia.
Bazuin expressed his appreciation for the responsibility the Board has entrusted him with and to John Mandy under whose tutelage he has been working at the NSX. In terms of the orderly handover process John will be retiring at the end of May 2013. He added: “The Exchange is at a cross-roads, with high expectations from Government in terms of the financial sector strategy. My goal is to continue the good work the NSX has been doing in maintaining a world-class regulatory regime and to deepen the capital markets through various new products and services we have been developing with the cooperation of our regulator (NAMFISA) and other market participants. ”
July 6th, 2012 by Tom Minney
The 10 stock exchanges of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are working together to increase the effectiveness of their markets. The Committee of SADC Stock Exchanges (CoSSE) has agreed to concentrate on 6 priority areas in support of regional moves to more efficient capital markets.
The stock exchanges will explore ways to use technology to link their trading and order systems and work together to ensure clearing and settlement systems align with global standards adopted in April. They are working closely with SADC institutions to support development of regional systems, including payment and will boost visibility of trading data and enhance their joint website (www.cossesadc.org), launched in April by the JSE and I-Net Bridge. The bourses will also pool resources to accelerate training and skills development for capital markets staff.
CoSSE members are Botswana Stock Exchange, Malawi Stock Exchange, Stock Exchange of Mauritius, Bolsa de Valores de Moçambique, Namibian Stock Exchange, South Africa’s JSE Ltd, Swaziland Stock Exchange, Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange of Tanzania, Zambia’s Lusaka Stock Exchange, and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. They met on 25 June in Gaborone, Botswana in a meeting convened by CoSSE with support from SADC Secretariat.
“Stock exchanges have their roles cut out in each of our economies to augment our governments’ efforts to grow national economies for the greater good and as part of the SADC region’s struggle for growth to escape poverty,” says Mrs Beatrice Nkanza, Chairperson of CoSSE and CEO of the Lusaka Stock Exchange. “They are the channel for long-term risk capital, which is urgently needed for the region’s businesses, infrastructure providers and even governments. They also encourage saving and investment. CoSSE members are working closely together to support SADC initiatives and to make individual markets even more effective”.
CoSSE was set up in 1997 as a collective body of the stock exchanges in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It promotes co-operation and collaboration between member stock exchanges and is resourced by a Secretariat, supported by the JSE. SADC defines CoSSE’s role in the Finance and Investment Protocol and other policy documents and CoSSE has links to ministerial and senior treasury bodies and also works closely with the Committee of Insurance, Securities and Non-Banking Financial Authorities (CISNA) and the Committee of Central Bank Governors (CCBG).
CoSSE had set up three working committees to implement six business plans, prioritized from the initiatives identified in its Strategic Plan 2011-2016. These are:
1. Legal and Secretariat working committee – chaired by Geoff Rothschild of the JSE. This is responsible for formalizing and resourcing the Secretariat, and for continuing and improving liaison with CISNA and other SADC organs.
2. Market Development working committee – chaired by Vipin Mahabirsingh of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. CoSSE has been developing models for inter-connectivity between automated trading systems at some or all member exchanges. The working committee will help member exchanges ensure their clearing and settlement systems comply with new global standards and support regional initiatives.
3. Capacity-Building and Visibility working committee – chaired by Anabela Chambuca Pinho of the Bolsa de Valores de Moçambique. This will liaise with member exchanges, regulators, stockbrokers, investors and others to develop and coordinate training courses. It will also enhance the new CoSSE website, help members to upgrade their own websites and to ensure their trading data and company news are disseminated internationally.
Progress will be guided by an Executive Committee, consisting of CoSSE Chairperson Mrs Nkanza, CoSSE Vice-Chairperson Gabriel Kitua (CEO of the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange in Tanzania) and the three working committee chairpersons. The strategic plan was developed with assistance from FinMark Trust.
For more information contact
• Beatrice Nkanza, CEO Lusaka Stock Exchange, tel +260 (1) 228391 or email nkanzab [at] luse.co.zm
• Gabriel Kitua, CEO Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange, tel +255 22 2135779 or email gabriel.kitua [at] dse.co.tz.
• Pearl Moatshe of CoSSE Secretariat, tel +27 11 5207118 or email pearlm [at] jse.co.za
May 29th, 2012 by Tom Minney
The dual-listing of Hana Mining Ltd last week on the Foreign Venture Capital Board of the Botswana Stock Exchange (www.bse.co.bw) could bring a giant new cross-Africa railway closer. Hana is also listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange venture board and the Frankfurt exchange. It plans a copper-silver mine near Ghanzi.
The company’s shares started trading on the BSE on 23 May, according to an announcement. On 14 May the company released its most recent (NI 43-101 compliant) preliminary economic assessment which calls for US$285.5 million initial capital expenditure to create a 10,000 tonne per day open-pit mining and milling operation. This is expected to produce approximately 66.4m pounds of copper and 878,000 ounces of silver annually over a minimum 13-year mine life. It says the Ghanzi property is one of Africa’s premier future copper-silver resources.
Hana Mining’s CEO and Chairman, Marek Kreczmer, was quoted as saying: “The listing of the company’s shares on the BSE is an important step in enhancing the relationship of the Company with the government of Botswana in that it allows the people of Botswana to invest directly in the company and gives the company access to some of the largest investment funds in Africa. Also, by establishing a listing in Botswana, we are aligning the goals of the Company with the people of Botswana.”
The Ghanzi Project covers 2,149 square kilometres in the centre of the Kalahari Copper Belt in northwestern Botswana. Favourable geology extends over an estimated strike length of 600 kilometres. The closest existing railhead to port is at Gobabis, in Namibia, approximately 550 km away. A feasibility study has been carried out with funding from the World Bank and the governments of Botswana and Namibia on completion of a rail link to connect Botswana with the Namibian port of Walvis Bay, on the Atlantic coast. More mining projects will make the railway more likely.
Construction is well advanced on a 600MW expansion of the government-owned Moropule Power Plant, which secured US$825m project funding in May 2009. The Trans-Kalahari highway passes within 15 km of the Ghanzi property, which is also near local population centres and workforce.
November 16th, 2011 by Tom Minney
2012 could be an active year for African bonds and particularly eurobonds, judging by the 5.5 times oversubscription for the “Namibia 21″, the country’s debut $500 million, 10-year Eurobond. According to a recent story on Reuters, Florian von Hartig, head of debt capital markets at Standard Bank which was one of the lead arrangers,said it demonstrated the appetite for liquid African paper. He added that 2012 was likely to be active if the markets bear up: “I think Namibia is just another sign of how much African credits are in demand. The economy in Africa has been doing very well at times when the so-called developed world (has experienced) zero growth or even recession. Naturally, investors want to get exposure to an area where growth is steady so it ticks all the boxes.”
Zambia is among countries also considering a 10-year $500m Eurobond. Reuters quotes Stuart Culverhouse, chief economist at London-based broker Exotix as saying finding the best moment in turbulent markets will be key: “The external environment is driving a lot of considerations at the moment and therefore finding a window of opportunity in the market so the issuer can get the best possible terms will be a crucial factor.” He added that Zambia’s strong fundamentals, including increasing copper production, single-digit inflation and relatively low debt, made it an attractive issuer. “I think the underlying strengths are there to elicit investor interest, but the new government has to build on that and consolidate on that rather than reverse direction,” he said.
Kevin Daly, emerging market debt portfolio manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, which bought the Namibian Eurobond, said it depends on the terms of the issue: “There’s enough African names in the market to use as a pricing reference. When you look at current yields on Senegal 10-year bond it’s around 8.3/8.4%, so that’s a good starting point for them.”
Namibia’s Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, said in an interview yesterday (15 Nov) on ABN digital; “We think that this does not only enable us to raise the funding that we need to finance our deficit, but it has enabled us also to realize the objective of providing a benchmark for future raising of funds by Namibia’s private sector, which is very important for the Namibian economy going forward.”
November 16th, 2011 by Tom Minney
The Namibian government issued a debut US$500 million, 10-year Eurobond on 27 October and got a price of 5.75%, taking advantage of a lull in the capital markets turmoil. It was oversubscribed five and a half times.
Namibia’s 144A/RegS benchmark sovereign bond (“Namibia 21”) carries a coupon of 5.5% and is rated Baa3 by Moody’s and BBB- by Fitch, according to a Standard Bank announcement. Standard Bank Group (www.standardbank.com) and Barclays Capital (www.barcap.com) served as joint book-runners.
Since the issue, “Namibia 21s” have outperformed other emerging market (EM) bonds as there were several would-be buyers in the October issue who did not get what they wanted and so they took advantage of price dips to buy. According to Standard Bank last week: “Having started at a spread of 175 bps (1.75 percentage points) over an interpolated SA curve, Nam 21s are now only 122 bps over. Although part of the narrowing is the poor SA performance, which we believe is probably not justified, we still believe the spread will narrow further. We are very constructive on Namibia’s long-term structural transformation into an oil producer. Meanwhile, GDP growth was a robust 5.6% year on year in Q1 2011, fostering something of an upward revision in full-year estimates.”
Speculation on oil finds may still be premature, although exploration interest has grown strongly in the last year, with many companies moving closer to drilling. However, big new uranium mines are expected to add to Namibia’s exports from 2014.
Marketing the Namibian bond began on 27 September 2011 with a 5-day international road show of 2 teams of senior officials. Namibia’s Minister of Finance, Sara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, and the Governor of the Bank of Namibia, Ipumbu Shiimi, led the delegations on investor meetings in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt, Munich and London. The roadshow highlighted economic fundamentals, such as a low government-debt-to-GDP ratio of 17% (at 1 September 2011) and real GDP growth rates of 6.6% in 2010 and forecasted at 5.8% for 2011.
According to the bank: “However, global market uncertainty and volatility caused primarily by the Eurozone debt crisis prompted Namibia to postpone a transaction until market volatility subsided and a potential resolution to the Eurozone crisis became more apparent.” It moved fast as sentiment changed: “A global market rally in risk assets following the conclusion of the EU leaders’ summit on 26 October provided strong market support and enabled the joint book-runners to announce the debut transaction. The joint book-runners released price guidance to the market on the morning of Thursday 27 October of a reoffer yield of between 5.75% and 6.00%. Investor interest built quickly across Europe, Asia and the US over the course of the morning and early afternoon. The investor response allowed the joint book-runners to launch the transaction at the tight end of price guidance by mid-afternoon on Thursday with a reoffer yield of 5.75%.”
Over 160 leading US, European and Asian institutional investors were on the order book. Fund managers and asset managers were over 50% of orders and the biggest proporation of the investors. UK accounts represented roughly 40% of orders, US 25%, continental Europe 30% and Asia about 5%.
Namibia’s is only the sixth benchmark sovereign bond to come to market from Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) in the past few years, says the bank. Gabon and Ghana were first to issue sub-Saharan Africa Eurobonds in late 2007, followed by Senegal in 2009 and Nigeria in early 2011. In May this year, Senegal issued its second sovereign bond, but broke new ground by successfully concluding a joint bond issue and exchange. Standard Bank Group also facilitated a $250m 7-year loan to the Tanzanian government in June 2011, raised through regional and international financiers.
Peter Baillargeon of Standard Bank Group’s Debt Capital Markets Africa desk in London commented: “African economies urgently need to address the gaps in their infrastructure, especially in the areas such as energy and transport. This is where long-term sovereign bonds can play an integral role. Our involvement with a number of sovereign transactions demonstrates Standard Bank’s capabilities to successfully facilitate complicated transactions of this nature.
“We are proving that we have the required expertise and capacity to help African sovereigns as well as corporate entities to raise debt in international capital markets.”
Carl Piccolo, Head of International Debt Syndicate at Standard Bank in London, said: “Namibia’s debut Eurobond has been well received by international investors. This transaction provides Namibia with a very broad international investor base consisting of a number of the leading emerging market investors and is expected to serve as a liquid market benchmark to support international funding requirements for the government as well as the corporate sector going forward.”
February 15th, 2011 by Tom Minney
The main trading platform of the London Stock Exchange (www.londonstockexchange.com) was successfully switched from the previous system yesterday (14 Feb) to the Millennium Exchange computer system. Technology solutions provider Millennium IT’s systems are widely installed in African stock exchanges.
Africa’s biggest exchange, the JSE Ltd (www.jse.co.za), announced on 3 Feb that it had concluded a licensing agreement with MillenniumIT to move its equity market trading activity onto Millennium Exchange, with the move planned for the first half of 2012. The JSE said the move will make trading 400 times faster. The Namibian Stock Exchange (www.nsx.com.na) also uses the JSE’s systems and both had been using the LSE’s TradElect system.
LSE swaps to compete
The 14 Feb LSE swap is the largest part of the exchange’s IT project. The London bourse bought Sri Lanka’s Millennium IT company for $30 million in 2009, instead of spending on a software package.
According to the a report in Financial Times, this is part of moves by the LSE to regain its position as a leading global exchange. It will adopt a faster trading system to take on rivals, expand into derivatives and streamline its clearing business. Antoine Shagoury, chief information officer of LSE Group, told the FT: “This migration is a crucial step forward in our drive to offer best in class trading services and marks a key milestone in the introduction of tightly integrated transaction technology across our markets,” said
LSE chief executive Xavier Rolet said the Millennium Exchange system is one of the fastest in the world, and can execute trades in 124 microseconds. Speed is a key criterion for luring high-frequency traders. Proprietary traders had been taking market share for trading in UK equities to exchanges such as Chi-X Europe and BATS Europe, operated by US-based BATS Global Markets but the Millennium Exchange is said to be double the average of the fastest speeds on BATS Global system. It is also faster than Nasdaq OMX.
The news came a few days after the LSE announced plans to merge with Canada’s TMX Group, subject to shareholders’ and regulators’ approval. Both exchanges would aim to pool their specialist trading platforms and cut IT development costs, and it would create the world’s biggest exchange by number of listings.
The switchover was delayed from last November, after the LSE’s Turquoise “dark pool” trading system for pan-European equities went out of order and was shut down as it switched to Millennium Exchange. The LSE held back moving its bigger UK equities trading platform away from the previous TradElect system until early this year. The LSE admitted last month that the problem had been caused by “human error”.
The LSE will move other parts of its operations onto the Millennium platform in due course.
JSE takes control
The JSE announced it will relocate its trading system from London to Johannesburg, enhancing operational efficiencies and ensuring trading optimization for market participants. Leanne Parsons, JSE Chief Operating Officer and Head of the Equity Market said in a press release: “We are excited about working with MillenniumIT and providing benefits to our market using their technology solutions”.
She is confident that the adoption of the new trading system will increase the equity volumes traded on the JSE and therefore liquidity: “In our experience, whenever we take a step forward with our trading technology, trading volumes also follow. If we want to remain a world-class and relevant exchange in a highly competitive industry, we must remain abreast of technological advances.”
Parsons explained that one reason to relocate the trading engine to Johannesburg was for increased operational stability. Now the JSE will manage and operate the trading engine itself. Parsons adds that operational costs will remain roughly the same: “The handful of incidents that we have had requiring the equity market to be halted, with reputational impacts, have been related to our international connectivity links. By moving the engine to Johannesburg, we eliminate this problem and are able to offer our clients improved service availability and stability.”
The structure of the deal with Millennium IT allows the JSE to grow trading volumes aggressively without incrementally increasing trading software costs. It also offers benefits for the JSE and opens up a new potential revenue stream by offering JSE stockbroking members the option to co-locate their computer servers near an exchange’s matching engine to cut the time it takes for messages to be sent to and from the trading engine and reduce bandwidth required. Many exchanges worldwide currently earn revenue from renting out computer space in co-location centres.
Millennium IT widely used in Africa
MillenniumIT, which has over a decade of experience in building technology solutions for the capital markets, is headquartered in Colombo, Sri Lanka and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the LSE Group. Millennium Exchange is the company’s flagship product used by 10 exchanges and other execution venues worldwide and is known for speed and scalability.
Tony Weeresinghe, CEO of MillenniumIT and Director of Global Development at the LSE Group said in a press release: “Millennium Exchange is a next-generation trading platform that offers ultra-fast order-processing capabilities, providing users with a trading experience that is amongst the fastest, most reliable and technologically advanced in the world.”
MillenniumIT has also supplied trading systems to the securities exchanges in Kenya, Mauritius, Tanzania and Zambia, and central depositories and settlement systems in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, among others.
The dynamic Stock Exchange of Mauritius (www.stockexchangeofmauritius.com), among the continental leaders in IT, has long promoted MillenniumIT trading and central depository systems. In addition to powering its own markets, SEM has also advocated them on other projects in which it has been involved, such as a central African regional exchange (which did not end up using Millennium IT), also Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Botswana, Lusaka and the Bank of Ghana CSD.
In particular, MillenniumIT’s Smart Order Router system could support the hub-and-spoke model that is adopted by the Committee of SADC Stock Exchanges. Preparations are done and this is ready to move fast once funding is approved. The model can allow exchanges to continue to regulate their brokers and other institutions, as orders can be routed through local broking houses.
MillenniumIT also won the project for linking the East African Securities Exchanges and helping solidify the East African common market for capital but this too is awaiting funding.
Jit Seneviratne, Head of Business Development, told AfricanCapitalMarketsNews: “MillenniumIT sees a major role for itself in integrating African capital markets and we will use our technology to facilitate this. It certainly helps that we are already powering several exchanges in Africa… We have already identified the manner in which the links can be done. The only challenge if at all, is not in the trading but the clearing and settlement of pan African securities, but we have a plan for this as well.”
November 5th, 2010 by Tom Minney
The London Stock Exchange (www.londonstockexchange.com) issued the following press release about its trading halt on Tuesday 2 November: “Investigations into this morning’s trading disruption on London Stock Exchange’s pan-European MTF (multi-lateral trading facility), Turquoise, have revealed that human error was to blame for the disruption that began at 08:23 a.m. this morning (sic). The issue was swiftly isolated, and normal trading resumed at 10:30 a.m. Preliminary investigations indicate that this human error may have occurred in suspicious circumstances. The LSEG take this matter very seriously and a full internal investigation has now begun. The relevant authorities have been informed.
“In light of this incident, coupled with necessary network upgrades to address ultra low latency and high flow inherent in the new platform, the Group has regrettably been forced to postpone its Main Market LSE technology migration for SETS. Given that December is an agreed change freeze period, the London Stock Exchange Group will work in partnership with customers to agree a date as early and practicably as possible in 2011 to reschedule the Main Market migration.”
This may give participants at the African Stock Exchanges Association conference in Livingstone, Zambia (10-12 November) something to talk about. According to reports an announcement was due later on 2 November about the LSE’s migration of its main trading platform, TradElect, to faster systems designed by Millennium IT (www.milleniumit.com), which the LSE acquired in 2009. Millennium IT is also a sponsor of the ASEA conference and has a key position on the agenda to speak on technology links to create more urgently-needed liquidity on African stock exchanges. MillenniumIT’s trading and central depository systems are already in use in many exchanges across Africa (see previous blog) and its influence is likely to grow.
Turquoise had gone live with the MillenniumIT trading system on 4 October and the LSE’s main platform was due to switch early in November 2010.
However, none of the sources quoted in a Financial Times article seem to think there is any problem with the LSE strategy to migrate to MillenniumIT’s modern multi-instrument trading systems. They note that the LSE needs modern high-speed trading systems to stay in competition for market share, including for European equities against competitors Chi-X, BATS Europe and NYSE’s Euronext – several intermediaries switched trades to these on Tuesday when Turquoise went down. Traders will need to be reassured about the LSE’s reliability and there are some questions about such a long delay in implementing the new system. It was also noted that many leading exchanges worldwide have been affected by tech problems and none has suffered lasting damage.
Another UK source reported on 4 November that an IT contractor with access to the LSE data centres has been suspended.
South Africa’s JSE, the Namibian Stock Exchange and Norway’s Oslo Bors are all exchanges which use TradElect because of links to the LSE, and could switch to MillenniumIT trading platforms in 2011.