Archive for the 'South Africa' Category

South Africa’s securities exchange war goes to court

Court is the next battleground in a war to redraw the securities exchange landscape in South Africa. New exchange 4AX 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 South Africa’s Financial Services Board 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 the FSB had complied well with the Financial Markets Act 2012 (FMA), and awarding ZAR X full costs (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.
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.
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 has 3 listed securities and 7 authorized market participants or brokers, according to its website. It says many listings are set to come.
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 prepayment model, so that cash is prefunded (deposited into the system before a trade) and a seller’s shareholding is pre-cleared before concluding a transaction. Securities are held in a segregated depository account at a central securities depository (CSD), as required in 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 transactions.
“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 to raise capital from asset managers. They need direct access to retail investors or bespoke asset managers who can invest in smaller companies. Asset managers are restricted to investing in securities with large market capitalisation.
He says the new exchange will mean that listings of less than R100m 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.”
“Nearly all equity listings 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 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.

Africa IPO round-up

A roundup of some recent initial public offers (IPOs) of shares on Africa’s stock exchanges to raise capital

In early October, MTN launched plans to sell up to 35% of shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange. Ghana’s Securities and Exchange Commission Director General Adu Anane Antwi confirmed they had started the listing process and were working on the prospectus but no timeline had been given. According to local reports, MTN received its 15-year 4G licence in 2015 after spending $67.5m and on condition that it lists. It hopes to raise up to $500m.
MTN Nigeria is also working on plans for an initial public offer (IPO) of shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2017 which could raise up to $1bn. Nigeria is among several African governments encouraging telcos to list on local bourses and listing is among conditions to settle a record NGN330bn ($1.1bn) fine for failing to disconnect 5.1m unregistered subscribers. Nigeria contributes a third of sales and profit for the Africa’s biggest phone company, which is listed in Johannesburg with market capitalization of ZAR212.8bn ($15.3bn) in early October.
Listings and capital-raising momentum has been maintained on the Nairobi Securities Exchange. Deacons Kenya is the first listed fashion retailer, after joining the Alternative Investment Market Segment (AIMS) of the NSE on 2 August. CEO Muchiri Wahome said the extra funds were to fund expansion into towns with “a vibrant middle class” across Kenya, spurred Kenya’s rapid and ambitious devolution and setting up 47 counties under its 2010 Constitution. Deacons is also eyeing opportunities in neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda. It will also help existing shareholders who want to sell. The retailer listed about 123m shares at an opening price of KES15 ($0.15) each, but by early October the price had slumped to KES8.55.

 

Nairobi centre (credit www.kenya-advisor.com)

Nairobi centre (credit www.kenya-advisor.com)

In June, leather and shoe retailer Nairobi Business Ventures, which operates the brand KShoe, had become the fifth listing on the NSE’s Growth and Enterprise Market Segment aimed at smaller businesses. It was listed through introduction and valued at KES118m ($1.2m). Previous 2016 share issues included Longhorn Publishers in May. In June power generator Kengen succeeded in the Kenyan bourse’s largest rights issue, raising KES26.4bn ($262.1m) by offering 4.4bn new shares at KES6.55 each, with a 92% subscription rate. Kengen has projects to generate another 700MW of power, of which 605MW is geothermal.
However, Fusion Capital had to cancel its IPO despite extending twice after only getting 38% uptake and four investors for its KES2.3bn offering and failing to meet the minimum threshold.
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange had its second private equity listing. Universal Partners raised R1.3bn ($93.7m) in an IPO which was only open for 4-5 August and started trading on the Alt-X market on 11 August. The company was registered in Mauritius in April and also listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. Its mandate is to invest in properties across Europe, at £10m-£30m ($12m-$37m) each and it aims to start investing within six months. The IPO was for 72m shares at R18.07 each. Several companies aiming to raise capital for African and international investments have dual-listing on the Mauritius and Johannesburg exchanges.
Liberty Holdings is likely to follow up its Kenyan IPO success with a South African Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) called Liberty Two Degrees in December. This will include some ZAR6bn of its existing portfolio, including iconic malls around Gauteng, and ZAR4bn of new money. As in Kenya, the property investments are managed by Stanlib.
West Africa’s integrated regional stock exchange, Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres (BRVM), based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, plans to build a platform for listing mining shares and raising capital locally. The exchange is talking with Canada’s Toronto Stock Exchange (TMX Group), a favourite bourse for early-stage mining entrepreneurs. BRVM General Manager Edoh Kossi Amenounve says it could open by 2018 and will be for companies exploring or operating mines in the region. There is likely to be a waiver to the usual requirement for 2 years of trading history. The BRVM links eight West African countries, including gold exporters Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, and fourth-largest uranium producer, Niger.
Egypt’s Minister of Investment Dalia Korshid says the Government aims to raise up to $10bn over the next three to five years with IPOs of government-owned companies in the oil sector but will start with restructuring state-owned electricity companies.

New South African stock exchange ZAR X to start 3 October

Trading is to start on South Africa’s new ZAR X securities exchange on 3 October. It gained a licence on 2 September and the first listings will be Senwes and  Senwes Beleggings, with up to 5 listings planned for first week October.

Another exchange is also being readied, 4AX also called 4 Africa Exchange (see story below).

South Africa’s regulator, the Financial Services Board, announced on 2 September that it had granted licences to ZAR X and 4 Africa Exchange Licences. It said: “The Registrar of Securities Services.. received and considered applications for exchange licences from ZARX (Pty) Ltd (“ZAR X”) and 4 Africa Exchange (Pty) Ltd (“4AX”) and has, in terms of section 9(1) of the Act, granted ZAR X and 4AX exchange licences with conditions after careful consideration of objections received as a result of a notice referred to in section 7(4).”

Initially FSB gave ZARX a conditional licence but in August a court ruled in favour of an application by the JSE, which had argued there was no provision for conditional licensing. JSE CEO Nicky Newton-King said at the time there were concerns about the complexity and the potential for systemic risk that multiple exchanges could bring.

ZAR X has a different level of risk as it requires to be pre-funded, which means that participants must lodge scrip and cash before they trade and settlement is then the same day (T+0). In July the JSE and other market participants moved their market from T+5 settlement to T+3 without any problems. Most institutional investors prefer transferring stocks or money after they have traded, when they know the exact amounts to transfer.

Etienne Nel, CEO of ZAR X, said: “We need to create a level of co-operation within the market space to make it as simple as possible for all participants to coexist”.

Speaking to Business Day TV, he said: “..we are very happy, obviously, delighted since it’s been a long time coming. To give you some context around the conditions, it’s obviously what we applied for. We initially said we were not going to be offering derivatives to the market and obviously as a result one of the conditions is we may not offer derivative trades on our market. Similarly, we cannot offer shares already listed on another exchange, but that was never in our application so we are obviously delighted with the licence that we finally got.”

Nel said in September they were busy getting brokers on board and putting investors through necessary screening and checks of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (38 of 2001 “FICA”)

Nel says ZAR X has less onerous rules on admitting companies for trading (listing requirements): “In our approach to listings.. we will have a conversation with the issuer and we are taking what is called a principles-based approach to listing rather than rules-based. Now what that achieves is if we get the slightest inclination that something is awry within a company we would actually rather walk away rather than doing the listing.. A rules-based environment .. becomes a tick-box exercise and in that environment you would end up with a situation where people end up finding loopholes, which a principles-based approach does not allow for”.

It breaks over 100 years of monopoly Africa by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, as the JSE was founded in 1887 but there were several stock exchanges around during the first South African gold rush. Speaking after the licence was issued, 4AX CEO Fay Mukaddam said in a press release: “We are delighted to have secured our licence. South Africa is a vibrant, growing market with enormous potential and we are confident that there’s a strong appetite for an additional licensed exchange to further develop and deepen the capital markets in the country.. 4AX can stand as a vehicle for diversity, which in turn, will drive real economic inclusion”. It will be an “empowered exchange” and will aim at retail investors but also attract institutional trading.

Both ZARX and 4AX will use Strate as their central securities depository (CSD).

 

Etienne Nel, CEO of ZAR X (credit timeslive.co.za)

Etienne Nel, CEO of ZAR X (credit timeslive.co.za)

About 4AX – new South African securities exchange

South Africa’s second new exchange, which also got a licence according to the 2 September announcement by the Financial Services Board (FSB), is 4AX, also known as 4 Africa Exchange. It plans to trade securities that are currently traded over-the-counter (OTC) and to go live early in 2017.

Speaking after the licence was issued, 4AX CEO Fay Mukaddam said in a press release: “We are delighted to have secured our licence. South Africa is a vibrant, growing market with enormous potential and we are confident that there’s a strong appetite for an additional licensed exchange to further develop and deepen the capital markets in the country.. 4AX can stand as a vehicle for diversity, which in turn, will drive real economic inclusion”. It will be an “empowered exchange” and will aim at retail investors but also attract institutional trading.

According to the background on its website: “A unique situation in South Africa has however created the need for 4AX. Previously, a number of South African companies issued shares and facilitated trading in the over-the-counter (OTC) market using unregulated OTC platforms. The current OTC market boasts a combined market capitalisation in excess of R30 billion ($2.2bn).

“As the OTC market expanded, the FSB recognised a need for greater regulation to protect shareholders and ensure a fair, orderly and transparent marketplace for issuers. The FSB determined that all operators of unregulated OTC platforms must cease operating or apply to become licensed exchanges under the Financial Market Act of 2012 (FMA). Board Notice 68 of 2014 reaffirmed the view of the Registrar that operators of exchange infrastructure should be licensed and that a proliferation of exchanges should not be allowed. This has caused significant upheaval in the market, for both issuers as well as shareholders.

“As a result of the regulatory amendments a substantial number of OTC companies are now in breach of the FMA. Faced with significant potential penalties under the FMA these companies have either stopped operating their OTC platforms or applied for extensions from the FSB, whilst searching for an alternative to unregulated OTC platforms. 4AX provide the solution.

Maponya Group has a 15% shareholding, other shareholders listed on its website include Global Environmental Markets Ltd, Capital Market Brokers which is a leading member of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius, independent fiduciary Intercontinental Trust Ltd,  agricultural firm NWK, and investment banking firm Pallidus.

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.

JSE switches to T+3 on 11 July

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange is switching to a shorter T+3 settlement cycle for the equity market from 11 July. It will reduce risk and add an estimated R50 billion ($3.3bn) of cash into circulation. Currently it is still working on T+5.

Last week the JSE announced that the final market-testing phase of the project has been successfully completed and the transition to a new post-trade dynamic will go ahead as planned. In the equity market, “T+3” is an abbreviation and means that ownership of equities is delivered in exchange for cleared payment in 4 days from the date of the trade. The current T+5 means this post-trade settlement cycle happens within 6 days. International best practice settlement standards are usually T+3 to allow time for international funds transfers to reach the target account in time for settlement. Many African securities exchanges are already on T+3 and some, such as Egyptian Exchange, are faster.

JSE Executive Director Dr Leila Fourie said: “South Africa must ensure that it remains as attractive as possible for foreign inflows of capital, and settlement assurance is vital for us to retain and keep attracting investment from outside of the country. Global investors need to be assured that, if they trade on our market, their trades will settle seamlessly. Currently, 37% of equity trades are held by non-residents with approximately 30% trading on a daily basis.

JSE celebrates 20 years since closing its trading floor on 7 June (photo Claudelle von Eck)

JSE celebrates 20 years since closing its trading floor on 7 June (photo Claudelle von Eck)


“A further benefit of a shorter settlement cycle is that it dramatically reduces the amount of unsettled trades at any given point. So, in the event of a market default, the number of unsettled trades that we have to unwind is reduced significantly. This reduces potential losses between trading parties, and enhances investor protection during the process.”

“The move to a shorter settlement cycle will catapult the country and the JSE to compete confidently among global equity markets, making it a matter of major importance for SA Inc. It will result in additional benefits to the market such as cash being released earlier in the settlement cycle, increasing the funds in circulation. Based on the average value traded per day of R25bn, this will create a release of R50bn into circulation.”

The entire market and all participants are affected, including listed companies, traders, investors, clearing and back-office participants, the central depository Strate, the JSE and all regulators. The JSE is leading the move in close collaboration with the South African Reserve Bank, National Treasury, Financial Services Board and numerous other stakeholders to ensure system and process readiness ahead of the move.

South Africa’s rate for failed trades has been close to zero over the past 15 years. The new, shorter settlement cycle will increase the number of trades that roll and do not settle on time. The JSE expects that between 5% and 10% might roll in the new environment, but aims to maintain a target of less than 5%. Fourie says: “We are working with participants to minimize this percentage by improving the availability of securities for lending and borrowing activity and also by actively encouraging behaviour changes where required.”

The JSE has requested that listed companies avoid corporate actions between 4 and 18 July in order to reduce complexity during the cutover week. The JSE thanks all participants, both local and abroad, “for their tremendous support in making market testing a great success”, according to the announcement.

JSE Clear gets approval from European regulator ESMA

In a step forward for derivatives, clearing and settlement in Africa, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has recognized JSE Clear, the derivative central counterparty (CCP) owned by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Stephen Maijoor, Chairman of ESMA’s Board of Supervisors, says in a letter to the JSE: “JSE Clear is recognized as a third country CCP under Title III of Chapter 4 of EMIR.”

This means that the European Union’s regulator recognizes JSE Clear as “equivalent” to CCPs in the EU.

The JSE and the Financial Services Board (FSB) worked together closely to obtain EU recognition, says Leila Fourie, Executive Director of the JSE. JSE Clear’s process to securing ESMA recognition was undertaken in conjunction with the FSB, and successfully finished 2 pieces of work:
• Obtain decision from the EU recognizing that South Africa’s legal framework and supervisory practices are equivalent to those contemplated within the EU regulations
• Obtain EU acknowledgement of the appropriateness of our CCP design and risk management processes in terms of the functioning of the market it is meant to serve.

Fourie commented in a press release on 1 Feb: “This achievement is hugely important for the JSE, our regulator the FSB and participants in South Africa’s financial markets. Today’s announcement means that EU-based market participants that clear trades through JSE Clear will be permitted to continue clearing for investors trading on the JSE.”

JSE Clear is required to apply for recognition by ESMA (the European Securities and Markets Authority), as a result of the fact that the CCP has Clearing Members that are either branches or subsidiaries of European registered entities.

Fourie added: “ESMA recognition strengthens our global credibility and fulfils a key requirement for multinational clearing members operating in the local market. Participation from these multinationals helps to distribute the credit, liquidity, operational and legal risk on our market – instead of concentrating this risk in a smaller number of clearing members.”

Central counterparty - graphic from www.economist.com

Central counterparty – graphic from www.economist.com

SA rules are globally relevant
“It is vital for South Africa that its rules are globally relevant and consistent with financial centers such as the EU. This milestone demonstrates that our CCP is robust and meets global standards in promoting financial stability and reducing systemic risk. The recognition of equivalence is a significant indicator of the rigidity of SA’s market infrastructures, and will aid in attracting international flows to our emerging market.

“The JSE is grateful to the FSB for their contribution in obtaining this major milestone for JSE Clear and the South African markets.”

“Clearing” denotes all “post-trade” activities from the time a securities transaction is executed until it is settled. A CCP is an organization that helps to reduce risk and safeguard against losses that could be incurred by a default of a trading participant when trading on the JSE’s markets.

JSE Clear was among the first in the world to be granted QCCP IOSCO status, i.e. marking it out as a “qualifying” CCP in terms established by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in July 2012. CPSS-IOSCO is a global standard for risk management aimed at any organization enabling the clearing, settlement and recording of a transaction.

The decision from ESMA follows earlier equivalence determinations for CCPs in Australia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong.

The JSE is one of the top 20 exchanges in the world in terms of market capitalization and is a member of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) and Association of Futures Markets (AFM). The JSE offers a fully electronic, efficient, secure market with world class regulation, trading and clearing systems, settlement assurance and risk management.

South Africa – politics affects the market, damaging savings and jobs

Pravin Gordhan (photo enca.com)

Pravin Gordhan (photo enca.com)

Stock exchanges act as a powerful and fast indicator of how the market and the business world view political initiatives. Many believe that the overall market has a wisdom that an individual policymaker or even a group of political leaders cannot expect to have. Of course political leaders are the ones elected and responsible to lead in the interests of the people, but the market is a very useful tool for quick feedback and possible corrective action.

Usually the signal is only given by plunging share prices or rising bond yields/falling bond prices (the same thing). However, last Sunday the Johannesburg Stock Exchange decided to spell out how policy decisions affect not just the stockbrokers, but the whole population, including hitting their savings, their jobs and their hopes. This came after President Jacob Zuma on 9 Dec appointed unknown David van Rooyen as Finance Minister in very dubious circumstances after sacking respected Nhlanhla Nene.

The revolt inside the African National Congress ANC and across the country was also strong. By Sunday night 13 Dec the National Treasury was back in what is seen as safe hands, with the reappointing of a previous minister, Pravin Gordhan. The ZAR currency gained on Monday, climbing back past ZAR15 = USD1, and reaching ZAR14.97=USD1 by this morning according to Reuters compared to ZAR14.43=USD1 before Nene was fired.

We reproduce a statement published by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and its CEO Nicky Newton King earlier on Sunday 13 Dec in full. It indicates how the market affects everyone’s welfare:

IT’ S NOT JUST THE NUMBERS – IT HURTS ORDINARY SOUTH AFRICANS
Says JSE CEO Nicky Newton-King

Johannesburg, 13 December 2015. South African capital markets posted significant losses and saw unprecedented activity following the announcement by President Jacob Zuma on the evening of the 9th of December to replace the Minister of Finance. Investors, ranging from individual retirees to huge pension funds, have seen the value of their holdings plummet. Businesses already under pressure now face increases coming from rising borrowing costs and a weaker Rand which devalued from R14.53 to R15.89 (9.36%) against the USD and from R15.94 to R17.45 (9.47%) against the EUR in the two subsequent days.

Thursday 10 and Friday 11 December 201 saw exceptional trading volumes across most platforms of the JSE:
• Average daily value traded in the Equity Market on those two days, at R47.8bn, was more than double the year to date average for 2015 (R19.9bn)
• Average daily number of trades in the Equity Market on those two days of 589 721 (both of which were record trading days) was more than double the year to date average of 246 338 trades
• The FTSE/JSE Financial15 Index (FINI) dropped 13.36% from 15 600 to 13 515
• The FTSE/JSE Banks Index lost 18.54% dropping from 6 556 to 5 340
• The FTSE/JSE All Share Index (ALSI) dropped 1 456 points in those two days, closing at 48 068 on Friday, down 2.94%
• The FTSE/JSE Top 40 Index shed 987 points over the same period, closing at 43 558 on Friday
• The entire market cap fell R169.6bn from R11.35tr to R11.18tr (1.49%)
• Activity in Equity Derivatives also peaked – value traded on 10 December (R51.1bn) was double that of the daily average of the year and on 11 December (R129.7bn) was 5 times the daily average of 2015
• In the bond market, the benchmark R186 started the week at a yield of 8.66% and closed on 10.40%. By contrast, on 29 January 2015 the yield was 7.055%.

Says Newton-King:

“While the JSE systems were able to handle this unprecedented activity, we should not just be concerned about the immediacy of market reaction but should be mindful of the longer term impact on the financial stability of our economy.

“Market losses put strain on credit extension and interest rates, and raise borrowing costs for companies and individuals. As cost of capital becomes more expensive, this in turn constrains the growth stimulus which we desperately need. The outlook for much needed job creation opportunities diminishes. And higher lending rates make everyday life more expensive for ordinary South Africans. Continued currency depreciation will have a profound impact on fuel prices and on inflation overall, which will hurt companies, small businesses, and individuals.

“We should remember that behind the daily statistics are the life savings of ordinary South Africans which are likely to be negatively impacted. This will put pressure on the ability of people to fund their health and housing requirements, their household budgets, their children’s education and their entrepreneurial aspirations.

“As individuals and as corporates we need to be aware of how we are impacted by the seriousness of this moment and take accountability for how we respond.”

Yesterday and today the markets started to recover. The banking index had fallen nearly 20% and on Monday climbed back 15% but then pared back gains to 8.7% by Monday evening. The yield on the benchmark 2026 ZAR186 government bond, with effects on all debt across the market, was down 101 basis points to 9.37% on Monday morning, but closed yesterday at 9.95% and this morning was at 9.87%, while the JSE’s All-Share Index was up 2% to 49,051.

Reuters reports Investec chief economist Annabel Bishop: “Finance Minister Gordhan has averted the rout, but the damage to sentiment cannot be repaired quickly, and South Africa will continue to suffer under it for quite a while.”

NOTE – PRIME EXAMPLE Markets reflect earnings prospects: It was fascinating to see how the “elephant bond” – Cote d’Ivoire’s previous Eurobond – adjusted its yields with every advance or retreat in the country’s 2010 civil war. It was eventually defaulted on in 2011 and resumed proper payments in 2012, with a very warm response given to the 2014 and 2015 editions, according to Euromoney.

Africa’s securities exchanges summit next week

Africa’s securities exchanges gather for their flagship conference in Johannesburg from 15-17 November. The 19th African Securities Exchanges Association annual summit is hosted by Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The association ASEA draws together 25 securities exchanges and ASEA President Oscar Onyema, CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, says the theme – “Africa Evermore: Growth for sustainability” — emphasizes that Africa’s capital markets are stable, have huge potential and are growing.

Oscar Onyema, CEO of Nigerian Stock Exchange

Oscar Onyema, CEO of Nigerian Stock Exchange

The association has as objectives to develop its member exchanges and enhance their global competitiveness. Those at the conference are the major players in capital markets, including listed companies, trading participants, regulators, government representatives, technology providers, legal advisors, and institutional investors from Africa, Europe, and Asia. It’s an ideal opportunity to network and exchange information with industry leaders from across the continent.

Capital markets should be the key channel for the massive investment to fuel Africa’s economic growth of the coming 20-30 years, including finance for business, for infrastructure and for a social and development gains.

Onyema says ASEA’s mandate is not just to promote Africa as a sound investment destination which offers better returns than more developed markets but also to highlight that Africa has strong regulatory structures and that the capital markets and policy-makers are committed to transparency and governance as fundamental to a healthy business environment.

Zeona Jacobs, Director of Marketing and Corporate Affairs at the JSE and ASEA Executive Committee Member, says: “ASEA has been successful in attracting capital inflows to key markets in Africa by positioning them as key engines of economic growth and opportunities for business development. The conference highlights the important role its members have in advancing the exchange market and raising Africa’s global competitiveness in this sector.”

Themes and speakers

The conference agenda covers key topics for Africa’s exchanges including
• How the economic health of African countries affect the capital markets, with perspectives from issuers and investors as well as the exchanges
• Role of exchanges as corporate citizens
• Sustainable stock exchange
• Sovereign wealth fund and how they see African exchanges
• Is increasing liquidity and transparency a pipe dream?
• Friend or foe – prop trading firms in Africa
• How do African markets become more influential in shaping the global regulatory environment?
• Challenges and opportunities of commodity derivative exchanges
• Do we need a pan-African clearing house?

Speakers include the leaders and top executives of many top African exchanges as well as global exchanges such as Nasdaq, key banks, international and African stockbrokers, private equity and asset managers, IT providers to Africa’s exchanges, data and information vendors, government officials and leading regulators

Your writer on panel

Your writer is honoured to be sharing a panel talking about the key post-trade sector and also securities exchanges integration: “Does Africa need a need a pan-African clearing house serving all its exchanges across asset-classes?”, moderated by Leila Fourie, Director: Post Trade and Information Services, JSE, with speakers Terry Gibson (External Post Trade Consultant, MillenniumIT) and Selloua Chakri (Head of Market Structure Strategy, MEA, Bloomberg L.P.).

IMF cuts African growth forecast

Africa’s growth is slowing dramatically, says the International Monetary Fund, and it could get worse if the global economy does not grow. The IMF says economic growth for 2015 is likely to be 3.75% and 4.25% next year, the lowest level in 6 years and down from last year’s 5% average growth.

In its October 2015 report African Economic Outlook: Dealing with the Gathering Clouds, the IMF writes: “The strong growth momentum evident in the region in recent years has dissipated. With the possibility that the external environment might turn even less favourable, risks to this outlook remain on the downside.”

There are many that are flourishing, including Cote d’Ivoire, forecast to grow at 9% this year because of an investment boom that followed the end of a brief civil war in 2012. It just had a very peaceful election and President Alassane Ouattara, a former IMF official, is widely expected to win.

In real growth terms (page 81) Ethiopia is Africa’s fastest-growing economy this year with 8.7% growth, followed by Democratic Republic of Congo (8.4%) and Cote d’Ivoire (8.2%). Ethiopia is second fastest next year with 8.1% forecast, just after Mozambique (8.2%).

The fund blames a slump in commodity prices and cheap dollars returning to the US and out of African credit markets for the lower overall growth. Hardest hit are the 8 countries that export oil from sub-Saharan Africa, where the prices are far lower. Top producers Nigeria and Angola will see revenues falling fast, while . weak minerals prices, power shortages and difficult financing conditions are slowing growth in countries such as Ghana, Zambia and South Africa. It said commodities revenues are forecast to remain depressed for several years.

According to a report by Reuters, Antoinette Sayeh, head of the IMF’s Africa department, said governments should work quickly to diversify revenue sources by improving domestic tax collection: “Mobilizing more revenues is an urgent matter – as is being more exacting in choosing expenditure. It’s a difficult patch, but we definitely think that countries can move out of the very difficult terrain and grow more robustly.”

The fund urges governments to increase productivity: “To sustain rapid growth the region will need to diversify away from commodities, increase export sophistication, and integrate into global value chains.”

Low interest rates, especially by issuing Eurobonds on international fixed income markets since 2007, has meant African governments have borrowed and public debt levels have risen. Sayeh warned governments to be “very careful” in how they managed dollar financing to ensure it is invested wisely. Some governments, such as Ghana, have been accused of frittering away Eurobond revenues on state salaries. Sayeh said Accra was doing “reasonably well” in its efforts to curb public spending under a $918 million IMF programme agreed in April.

She says that Zambia has not yet asked IMF for financial help. It is also struggling with the rising cost of servicing USD debt after the value of its currency fell 50% this year.

The Fund also notes that Sub-Saharan Africa has among the highest levels of inequality—both income and gender—in the world, even after accounting for the lower levels of per capita income in the region. There is growing international evidence that such inequality can impede macroeconomic stability and growth

Highlights from the report
In most low-income countries, growth is holding up, as ongoing infrastructure investment efforts continue and private consumption remains strong. The likes of Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Tanzania are projected to register growth of 7% or more this year and next. But even within this group, some countries are feeling the pinch from lower prices for their main export commodities, even as lower oil prices ease their energy import bill. On average, activity for this group is now projected to expand by 6% in 2015, some three-quarters of a percentage point lower than foreseen a year ago.

• The region’s 8 oil-exporting countries, conversely, are being hit hard by the continued weakness in oil prices. Falling export incomes and resulting sharp fiscal adjustments are taking their toll on activity, now expected to expand by 3½% this year, down from the 7% expected before oil prices started falling. Headwinds are particularly strong in Angola and Nigeria, but also among oil exporters in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).

• Several middle-income countries are also facing unfavourable conditions. A combination of supply shocks (for example, curtailed electricity production in Ghana, South Africa, and Zambia), more difficult financing conditions in a context of large domestic imbalances (Ghana and Zambia), and weaker commodity prices (Botswana, South Africa, Zambia) are set to lower growth.

Moreover, there is a risk of still lower growth if the external environment continues to weaken. Existing vulnerabilities, especially on the fiscal front, could also come to a head if the external environment were to turn even less favorable, via further declines in commodity prices, stronger growth deceleration in China, or a disorderly global asset reallocation.

Debt crunch
With gross external financing needs in excess of 10% of GDP in many of the larger economies (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania), it might at best become increasingly difficult and expensive to cover these needs, and at worst, impossible to do so, forcing an abrupt adjustment.

Where fiscal deficits are particularly large and external costs have already risen substantially, recourse to domestic markets is also becoming increasingly difficult, as in Ghana and Zambia. This has pushed domestic borrowing costs up— crowding out the private sector in the process and restraining the emergence of new, more diverse, domestic sources of growth.

inflation is now inching up in some of the largest sub-Saharan African economies, in contrast with the trend of recent years. Average inflation in the region is expected to reach 7% this year and 7¼% next year. In some countries, specific factors such as electricity tariff hikes (South Africa), the elimination of fuel subsidies (Angola), and rising food prices (Ethiopia, Tanzania) have also pushed inflation up. However, inflation in most other countries remains contained, particularly in the CFA franc zones, where it ranges from 1 to 3%.
some central banks have intervened in the market to contain exchange rate volatility, and others, most notably oil exporters, have drawn on their external buffers to smooth the adjustment to lower commodity prices (Figure 1.12). Some countries, including Angola and Nigeria, have also introduced administrative measures to stem the demand for foreign currency, significantly hampering the conduct of private sector activities in the process.

Banks could well see a worsening of the quality of their assets. Recent analysis suggests that financial stability indicators in natural-resource-rich countries, such as bank profitability or nonperforming loans, tend to deteriorate and the probability of systemic banking crises tends to increase in the wake of negative commodity price shocks

Power block
Infrastructure bottlenecks have long been an impediment to attracting new activities and fostering trade integration.8 These bottlenecks have come to the forefront even more acutely recently for a wide range of countries. Load shedding and electricity shortages, triggered by delays in upgrading aging power plants and filling the power generation gaps, have become a regular occurrence in Ghana and South Africa, with particularly acute effects in the manufacturing sector. Worsening conditions in electricity supply have also been severely hampering activity in a few other countries (Comoros, Madagascar, Nigeria, and Zambia).

These difficulties are in stark contrast with encouraging progress made elsewhere in the region, as past investment is now bearing fruit. In Kenya, the doubling of geothermal generation capacity in the second half of 2014 led to a 20% increase in overall capacity and a 25% decline of electricity cost (IMF 2015b). The coming onstream of new hydropower plants in Ethiopia is contributing to a further increase in electricity availability for the entire east African region, and will do so even more in the next few years—supporting the emergence of new activities. In west Africa, a new dam put in service in Guinea in the summer of 2015 will also allow electricity exports to neighbouring countries.