Archive for the 'Stock Exchanges' Category

International – new IPSX exchange opens property as global asset class

A new asset class has opened for investors as the International Property Securities Exchange in London prepares for its first initial public offer (IPO) in coming weeks. The IPSX Group is also planning exchanges in Germany, North America and Asia.

The first IPO is still planned for the end of Q1, depending on market conditions, after UK regulator Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on 9 January issued a Recognition Order in relation to wholly-owned subsidiary IPSX UK Limited to operate a Recognised Investment Exchange (RIE) in the UK.

This is the highest level of authorization and means IPSX joins London Stock Exchange Group, Euronext, Intercontinental Exchange, CME Group, CBOE Global Markets and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing in operating an RIE.

City of London (with my former flat almost in view across river!), photo: Sky News

The new exchange will enable investors to invest in part of a building, and will free up groups with large headquarters or other assets to realize some of that equity. According to Anthony Hilton writing in Evening Standard: “It would allow people who own property, and particularly those who saw it as ancillary to their main business, to extract some of its value by floating its shares on the exchange”.

A company owning a single building would be able to float on the market, giving investors direct sight of the underlying assets. Building owners would no longer need to sell 100% of a building, they could sell a proportion, say 25%, and then buy it back later. The bourse also has eligibility requirements on portfolio commonality to allow “multiple asset issuers” onto the regulated market.

Hilton writes: “A company like pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline, which has huge property assets to the west of London, could get some of the value by listing its shares and using the cash to help with its drug development.

“Similarly, the Football Association might float Wembley rather than try to sell it, as it apparently wants to, and use the proceeds for grass-roots football.”

According to a press release, IPSX Group Limited is a market infrastructure and data products business established in 2014 and dedicated to real assets – initially real estate. A strong group of investors include British Land, M7 Real Estate, Henley Investments, Daily Mail & General Trust and top business figures are on the board.

Another press release says: “Issuers on IPSX will be companies owning single real estate assets. For the first time, investors will have a choice as to where they invest and have direct sight of the specific underlying property asset that their investment relates to, with clarity over the revenues and costs associated with it, typically also benefiting from the tax efficiency conferred by REIT status.”

IPSX founder Anthony Gahan says: “From now on every type of investor can access the returns from institutional investment grade real estate by buying and selling shares in issues through IPSX. Imagine the man in the street buying shares in the company owning the building he works in, or even the Premiership football stadium where he watches his favourite team play.”

Gahan is quoted in CityAM newspaper: “We see it as the democratisation of the property market.”

Currently investment into large real estate deals is dominated by big funds and institutions, with smaller institutions and family offices going after the medium and small deals. Individuals can buy shares through property companies and real-estate investment trusts (REITs), which decide the mix of assets and when to buy or sell.

According to Hilton, the liquidity offered by the exchange may also encourage open-ended property funds. Previously investors into funds would have to wait to get their money out and the fund might have to take months selling properties in an illiquid market to get cash out at reduced values. That happened after the 2016 UK Brexit referendum to leave Europe, when there were a queue of redemptions and property companies dropped in price.

According to Hilton, the liquidity and clearer regulation of an exchange will change this: “Institutional investors focus on equities, bonds and real estate. But real estate has always been different because investors are in the hands of chartered surveyors who were the ones who ruled on value.

“In good times that could be more than expected; in bad times it could be worse because liquidity often dwindles just when it is needed. So property assets always have that degree of uncertainty. That too should change. Shares in the IPSX will enhance liquidity, and property in time could emerge as an equal, rather than a nice-to-have, asset.”

There is a pipeline worth billions, as owners of City of London and West End blocks could list on IPSX. Commercial real estate as a global asset class is estimated to be worth $30 trillion.

Tax authority HMRC is likely to recognize the exchange as admission/trading venue for REIT tax status.

The IPSX network infrastructure is being developed by Cisilion and IPSX is outsourcing operation of the trading platform to Cinnober and has its data repository and workflow management platform at Goldensource.

According to the press releases: “Importantly, for all, IPSX connects sellers with a new, deep, international investor universe at a time when some real estate assets are so valuable that few institutions are able to buy alone and private sale processes result in only one bidder submitting an offer to buy the asset… IPSX proposes to add further exchange-based products to its offering including a professional market for closely held REITs together with new real estate indices and data products.”

“Anthony Gahan added: ‘This is game-changing news for asset owners and global investors, many of whom have helped to actively shape the IPSX proposition.’”

Africans inspiring London Stock Exchange

Opening bell ceremony at London Stock Exchange for Companies to Inspire Africa 2019, credit LSEG

The London Stock Exchange Group launched the 2nd edition of its Companies to Inspire Africa Report, on Wed 16 Jan, identifying dynamic growth businesses in Africa to build an information database and showcase them to a global audience. Many speakers expressed sympathies after a terror attack in Nairobi on 15 Jan.

International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt MP, said the positive African launch was uplifting after the previous night’s “depressing” vote in Parliament: “Five of the world’s fastest-growing economies are African and by 2050 a quarter of the world’s population will live there. This growth presents unique opportunities for us all (see speech here)

“The Companies to Inspire Africa report highlights the leading private companies operating in Africa, which have the most inspiring stories and the strongest growth potential. By combining African-led ambition with British expertise we can unlock investment and create more jobs for Africa and the UK. This is a win for Africa and a win for the UK.”

David Schwimmer, CEO of LSEG, said: “These high-growth companies have the potential to transform the African economy and become tomorrow’s job creators. At LSEG, we are committed to helping companies realise that potential and we are pleased to highlight and celebrate the company success stories behind one of the world’s fastest growing markets.”

He highlighted LSE’s role as a huge centre for African businesses and governments to raise capital. Successes include hosting bond issuances for Nigeria, Egypt, Angola and Ghana, and in November 2018 Quantum Terminals (liquid gas storage, cleaner fuel for households) from Ghana succeeded in the first local-currency bond to list in London.

He also mentioned the ELITE programme, an international network for growth and funding options,   which has enrolled over 90 companies with 20,000 employees in 8 African countries. The programme was launched in 2016 with the Casablanca Stock Exchange and has expanded across West Africa with support from CSE and the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM).

About the report

The report is a 144-page book with great infographics and photos, put together by LSEG and Wardour.

It includes inputs by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Prime Minister Theresa May of UK, plus many other key leaders working in Africa. It highlights a good number of exciting companies across Africa including innovative farming and even drones for agriculture, top consumer goods services and the size of the growing consumer goods market, many dynamic companies with women leaders, fintech, better banking and other financial services, healthcare, education, industry, renewable energy and technology and telecoms.

Partners to the report who helped with the selection and research are Asoko Insight and PwC. It was sponsored by African Development Bank, CDC Group, Instinctif Partners and Stephenson Harwood.

The 360 companies were selected from 4,000 nominations by LSEG’s partners, development finance institutions, venture capitalists, private equity firms, impact investors. Research partner Asoko Insight nominated some and helped with data collection and company information, according to CEO Rob Withagen. To be included a company had to be active and privately owned, with headquarters and primary operations in Africa. It must have demonstrated growth over last 3 years measured in: revenues, number of employees, operational output or geographical expansion. It needed to be audited by a recognized auditor and individual company or consolidated group annual revenue must not exceed $1bn for the years 2015-2017. It includes 97 Nigerian companies, 66 from Kenya, 31 Ugandan and 23 South African

The report is also launching in Lagos.

A comprehensive searchable database of the report, along with a downloadable PDF of the publication is available at www.lseg.com/inspireafrica.

London Stock Exchange Group has a long history of supporting the development of African capital markets and investment in African companies. To learn more, click here.

Companies to Inspire Africa 2019 report in numbers:

The report identifies 360 companies from 32 countries representing 7 major sectors. It highlights the entrepreneurial and dynamic landscape of the African private sector. Companies featured include small entrepreneurial businesses through to well-established corporations. A searchable database of the report and a downloadable PDF of the publication are available at www.lseg.com/inspireafrica. The first edition of the report was published in 2017.

•             Average revenue Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is 46% (up from 16% in 2017 report) and average employee CAGR at 25%, over three years, in 2019 report

•             23% of the companies are led by women, almost double the proportion in the 2017 report: Standout sectors where senior female executives are having a big impact are: healthcare & education, and financial services. Ten out of the 20 Ghanaian companies featured are led by women.

•             The fastest growing sectors are financial services (revenue growth rate 70%) and renewable energy (revenue growth rate 66%)

•             Consumer services is the most represented sector with 79 companies from 20 countries this year, reflecting the growth of sub-sectors such as consumer goods, food & beverages, leisure & tourism, media and retail, and the growing middle class in Africa

•             Agriculture remains an important sector for the continent with 53 companies, almost 15% of companies in report

•             Most companies per country are: #1Nigeria (97 companies) and #2 Kenya (66). Nigeria was already most companies in 2017, but strong representation from the industry and technology & telecom sectors

•             The companies in this year’s report are creating significant employment opportunities across Africa with each company employing an average of 363 people.

Blockchain, crypto and the changes to stock exchanges in coming 2 years

Hirander Misra of GMEX, speaking at panel organized by lawyers Mackrell Turner Garrett on cryptocurrencies in London on 14 Nov, says: “We get 10 inquiries a week to set up a platform. The bar for setting up a blockchain or crypto exchange is moving much higher. In Mauritius and Abu Dhabi the bar is almost as high as for setting up a normal exchange.

“Digital currency is here to stay, in time some sovereign states will adopt it. In Venezuela, where currency collapsed, people have used bitcoin to get currency out, in Harare people have adopted it. Fidelity and others have started to dip their toes in the water.

“Independent crypto exchanges are opaque, it can be very expensive to get assets in and out. In the last 6-12 months, some of the big custodians have been getting involved, the large banks are going into custody, adopting own products, vaults, etc.

“We talk about ‘decentralized’ but everyone is protecting their own turf, we will end up in worse mess. It can be spaghetti.

“Securities exchanges are very much like they were 25 years ago, standalone, at the time when electronic trading came in. Unless you change you won’t be relevant. There will be change in the next 2 years.

“We still need for regulation and intermediaries, people still want institutions to be accountable. A lot of what we have done in last 30 years is still relevant, our challenge is to make it more efficient.”

GMEX
GMEX Group (GMEX) comprises a set of companies that offer leading-edge innovative solutions for a new era of global financial markets, providing business expertise, the latest technology, connectivity, and operational excellence delivered through an aligned partnership driven approach. GMEX uses extensive market infrastructure experience and expertise to create an appropriate strategic master plan with exchanges, clearing houses, depositories, registries, and warehouse receipt platforms. GMEX also offers the added benefit of interconnection to multiple partner exchanges, to create global networks of liquidity. GMEX Technologies is a wholly owned subsidiary of GMEX Group.

Liquidity and cost of trading on Africa’s stock exchanges – Bright Africa 2018

++ LATEST ++ Join webinar with Making Finance Work for Africa @mfw4a as #BrightAfrica principal author and head of #unlistedinvestment services at #RisCura Heleen Goussard shares key insights from the latest research on #PrivateEquity on 20 Sept. Don’t miss out. Register here. ++

RisCura’s annual Bright Africa report is a highly recommended read on Africa’s capital markets. Check out the interactive website and download the short report at brightafrica.riscura.com.

Africa’s equity recovery started in the last quarter of 2016, with an uptick in index returns across the different regions. Growth had stopped in African stock markets from 2014 to mid-2016. RisCura says this was “largely due to decreasing commodity prices and a flight to safety from global investors. In 2015 the region saw the lowest recorded growth rate since 1998.” Bright Africa singles out Kenya as “Africa’s overall winner in terms of listed equity performance”. It is relatively immune to the commodity cycle, has a business-friendly environment and is a beneficiary of continued integration of the East African Union. However, returns only represent a compounded annual return of 10% in US dollar terms.

These key challenges facing investors into African listed equities should top the agenda for capital-markets policy-makers, operators and regulators.

Liquidity
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange turns over a respectable $1.8 billion a day. After that, Africa’s stock exchanges “remain stubbornly illiquid”, according to Bright Africa. The second most liquid is the Egyptian Exchange (the report refers to one of its exchanges, the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange CASE) with $72m traded daily. Next are the Casablanca Stock Exchange at $17m a day and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) $15m in turnover for 2018, each less than 1% of the JSE daily trade.

Daily turnover on the NSE soared 71% during 2018, due to a median increase in turnover of 125% across its 10 largest companies, all in the financial sector. The key boost was recovery in world oil prices seen towards the end of 2017, causing improved economic fundamentals and a boosting investor sentiment. Highest average daily turnover value across African exchanges, excluding JSE, and most of the market capitalisation are with the financial sector. Morocco has 30% of the financial sector capital (ex-JSE), followed by Egypt (18%) and Nigeria (15%).

Free float and liquidity
The “free-float” represents the proportion of a listed companies’ shares that are available for active trading and excludes: any directors’ holdings, shares with lock-in periods and those otherwise held without the intention of trading pursuant to a regulatory or commercial purpose. Excluding these shares from the liquidity consideration, we get a truer representation of the liquidity in an exchange. The JSE has an adjusted market capitalisation of $750bn and a free-float of 73%.

On average larger exchanges exhibit higher levels of free-float, as expected, but this is generally low across the exchanges. The free-floats of the Egyptian and Moroccan exchanges average 26% of their market capitalizations. Both exchanges have higher overall market capitalizations than Nigeria, but the NSE has a higher free-float at 46% of market capitalization, and so a higher adjusted market capitalization. The Ghana Stock Exchange tops the African rankings as the highest free-float (ex-JSE) at 66%, followed by Namibia at 61%. The lowest free-float level relates to the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM), free-float of only 2%.

Cost of trading and brokerage commissions
RisCura says: “The cost of trading on African exchanges is substantially higher than developed markets”.

Bright Africa report says it is difficult to obtain cost of trading information. “A significant portion of trading fees is made up of brokerage commissions… The limited pool of licensed brokers in each country results in very low power to investors to switch to a more affordable competitor. However, the low volume of trades on these exchanges means that brokers charge more on each trade to cover their costs. It’s a difficult position to get out of without incentivization for brokers to lower their fees.”

The report’s verdict: “Trading costs of up to 4% makes short-term trading strategies unviable, further reducing the liquidity in these markets. Egypt’s relative high liquidity, in comparison with Nigeria (which has a similar free-float), can at least in part be attributed to the significantly lower cost of trading.”

The cost of trading below represents the cost of a single transaction, but in order to realise profits investors would need to also sell shares resulting in double the costs. The substantial portion of other fees in South Africa, mostly represent Securities Transfer Tax, which is not charged in most developed markets.

Mobile phone app for trading on Zimbabwe securities exchanges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet FINSEC, Zimbabwe’s second securities exchange

Zimbabweans have a second option for trading securities, with an emphasis on financial inclusion and economic empowerment through capital markets. Financial Securities Exchange (Private) Limited (FINSEC) is licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe as a securities exchange (alternative trading platform).

It was launched in December 2016 and is part of Escrow Group, which has interests in financial services and technology. According to Escrow website, it has offices in Kenya and Zambia. The group includes Corpserve Registrars, which is a share registrars company set up in 1997, with operations in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania.

According to the website: “FINSEC is a pioneer in the provision of alternative trading solutions aimed at automating activities of previously sidelined OTC (over-the-counter) markets. It offers a complete suite comprising Order Management, Matching Engine, Clearing, Settlement and Delivery. FINSEC is transforming markets with activities so far in Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe.”

FINSEC Zimbabwe reported record turnover of $1.2 million in November 2017, with total equity turnover of $3.1m from launch to early December 2017. Listings include bonds issued by Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ), and class B shares of Old Mutual Group. CEO Collen Tapfumaneyi forecast that bringing in mobile technology would boost volumes.

Microfinance company Untu Capital Ltd has raised $5m in medium-term notes on the platform, which it will use to finance micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Zimbabwe. According to a story in Herald newspaper. It started with a $1m issue, followed with $2m and again with $2m in May-June 2018, which listed on FINSEC on 11 June 2018, paying a fixed coupon of 10% a year. The bonds are a financial inclusion tool, called “U-Gain” and partnered with Telecash and EcoCash to offer a minimum $50 issue, maturity date 10 June 2021, paying interest every 6 months. Untu was set up in 2009 and provides finance to MSMEs, including working capital, capital and investment and value added services.

According to a story on the Daily News website, the class B shares were created in 2011 when Old Mutual surrendered 25% of its issues shares to indigenous investors as part of the indigenization laws, including 11% to employees, 8% to pensioners and 3.5% to strategic investors and 2.5% to a special youth fund. On 25 June FINSEC announced that the shares were liberalized and could be bought and sold by investors who were not indigenous Zimbabweans, including foreign investors and all capital market participants.

FINSEC does electronic trading of different types of securities, and the FINSEC website reads: “..(it) integrates all market participants in real time via a robust and state-of-the-art web based technology. The market participants include but are not limited to securities dealers, custodians, asset managers, issuers, settlement banks, market makers, transfer secretaries and regulators.

“FINSEC offers an integrated market-place solution covering; order management; order routing; order matching; clearing and settlement; securities delivery; trade risk management; data analysis; surveillance; mobile trading; online trading and full reporting.” FINSEC manages the full cycle from investor creation to trade settlement with the involvement of custodians and settlement banks.

According to the FINSEC website, it hopes to focus primarily on retail investors. It says its alternative trading platform “emphasises that all investors make informed investment decisions based on thorough research, which includes evaluating a company’s disclosures and financial reports as well as the prices and market for the company’s securities”.

Trading is through stockbrokers and investor accounts have to be opened through stockbrokers and custodians. The only mentioned custodian is Three Anchor Investments, trading as Old Mutual Custodial Services and the only mentioned bank is CABS, a financial institution and subsidiary of Old Mutual.

FINSEC says it also has an investor relations portal where individuals can monitor their portfolios, update know your client (KYC) information and check inquiries. It provides online and mobile access.

Victoria Falls

Why Ethiopia needs a stock exchange as it liberalizes

One of Africa’s biggest economies. Ethiopia, is launching a giant privatization campaign that could be lead to transformation, growth and liberalization. But there is no Ethiopian securities exchange, meaning citizens and domestic savings institutions may not be able to participate and the economy will continue to suffer inefficiencies and lack of transparency.

On 5 June Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the ruling party EPRDF set headlines alight by announcing a decision to sell stakes in the telecoms monopoly, long a cash cow for the Government. Investors will also be invited to buy stakes in Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa’s fastest-growing and best-run airlines.

Zemenedeh Negatu, chairman of Fairfax Africa Fund LLC, a U.S.-based investment firm, and a former Managing Partner of EY in Ethiopia, commented in the Wall Street Journal newspaper: “The new leadership in Addis is smartly modifying and adopting policies and strategies that will sustain Ethiopia’s growth. I also strongly believe that these enterprises should be privatized by listing their shares in a local stock market, which should be established as soon as possible.”

Ethiopia was the world’s 2nd fastest growing economy in 2017 with 10.9% growth, according to the International Monetary Fund, which forecasts 8.5% growth in 2018, after a decade of growing at nearly 10% a year.

According to a Reuters report by Aaron Maasho: “It is unclear whether the Government would consider licensing foreign mobile operators. Interest might be limited if the only option is a minority stake in the monopoly.

“Analysts have said the government’s move falls far short of enabling full competition by multinationals. They note that by selling minority stakes the EPRDF is underscoring its view that the state should be a key player in the economy.” However, he notes “the step is still radical for the EPRDF.. and could indicate how 41-year-old Abiy plans to steer the country.”

Abiy Ahmed took office in April. The announcement also included a peace deal with neighbouring Eritrea in line with a decision in year 2000 that would cede disputed territory.

Both Africa’s telecom giants MTN and Vodacom told Reuters they are interested. MTN says Ethiopia “would be a natural fit for MTN’s existing pan-African footprint.” And Vodacom said “Ethiopia is an attractive market so it follows that there would be interest”.

A statement after a day-long meeting of the EPRDF’s executive committee said economic reforms are needed to sustain economic growth. It referred to foreign exchange shortages that mean there are too few goods in shops. Economists estimate that foreign reserves cover less than 2 months of imports.

Much of Ethiopia’s growth and successes at rolling back poverty are linked to the ambitious road, rail and electricity infrastructure investment and building projects run by the Government, which pours revenues from its telecoms, airlines and other monopolies to this. There is an ambitious strategy to transform a nation, which on farming, into an industrialized nation where manufacturing provides expert earnings.

On 6 June, Abiy warned of the risks: “”It is progressive. This new economic decision will afford us the opportunity to resolve widespread unemployment, ease foreign currency shortages, and reduce weaknesses in market connectivity. However, unless implemented with skill, knowledge and focus, it can lead to a repeat of the pervasive theft seen in many African countries and a destruction of Ethiopia’s wealth.”

Charlie Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital, told Reuters: “”The Government is still deeply sceptical about capitalism and speculative investors.”

OPINION – A well run stock exchange is vital in Ethiopia’s successful privatization and transformation

The capital market will bring many benefits to Ethiopians and the economy. A stock exchange enables enterprises to raise capital to create growth, jobs and fight poverty through issuing shares (equity) to long-term investors who are ready to share the business risks. It provides a transparent and efficient market for raising hundreds of millions of long-term debt, including bonds for housing and infrastructure, as in neighbouring Kenya. It would amplify efforts by Ethiopia’s Government and banks to finance the ongoing giant growth potential.

A regulated stock exchange encourages savings and help investors channel these into the most productive enterprises, boosting market size and efficiency. It boosts transparency by requiring companies to publish audited trading information promptly and widely, sharing similar information benefits with smaller investors as the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) brings to farmers – any by encouraging professional analysts.

Individual Ethiopians are very keen for additional places to grow their savings, some of which are held in cash or low yielding bank deposits. Like other African countries, Ethiopia has fast growing domestic investment funds at pension and insurance institutions, and these need a much wider choice of productive assets to invest into, offering diversification and growth while seeking to maintain the overall safety of the members’ funds.

There are many Ethiopians both at home and abroad with the skills and character to ensure that any Ethiopian exchange will be one of the best and biggest in Africa. Although speculative trading is expected, it is also a key contributor to market liquidity and efficiency, and ensuring a large and active enough domestic base will counter much of the overall market volatility. Regulation is also needed to protect investors by ensuring that only well run businesses with a good track record and management can offer shares to the public, contrary to many unregulated initial public offers that have happened.

A well run stock exchange is what Ethiopia needs to transform its economy, boost participation, investment and the private sector, and to encourage efficiency and jobs.

DISCLOSURE – The author has worked on proposals on a stock exchange in Ethiopia, including when he worked at EY, and has studied the background and potential of the capital market there.

Addis Ababa (photo credit Horn Affairs)

London Stock Exchange financing African growth

African companies listed or trading on the London Stock Exchange have a total market capitalization of over $200 billion ($271bn), and in the last 10 years have raised more than $16 bn on London’s markets. The 108 African companies is more than any other international market, according to a press release from the LSE.

There are 9 African sovereign bonds listed in London, from: Gabon, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria and Zambia

According to Tom Attenborough, Head of International Business Development, London Stock Exchange, in an LSE press release: “The success of Vivo Energy’s IPO is a strong statement of international investor interest in building exposure to Africa. As a London-listed company, Vivo Energy, will gain access to the world’s most international market, as well as an unrivalled source of deep liquidity and new investors.

“London is a strong partner to African companies seeking to attract international investment.”

Paternoster Square with London Stock Exchange at right (credit: Wikipedia)

  • Also this month, May 2018, Angola launched a $3bn Eurobond on LSE, the country’s biggest international bond and the first international issuance since 2015.
  • In April the LSE Group, the Nairobi Securities Exchange and non-governmental organization FSD Africa signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the launch of LSEG’s business support and capital-raising programme, ELITE. In May, the first Kenyan company, Olsuswa Energy, joined the programme. So far 850 companies have joined the ELITE programme.
  • In November 2017, the LSE, Casablanca Stock Exchange and the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM) signed an agreement to roll out ELITE across West African markets, in a signing ceremony presided by Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire.
  • In June 2017, Nigeria raised $300m through its first Diaspora Bond on LSE, a retail bond aimed at Nigeria’s global expatriate community seeking to invest in their home country’s development. It was the first bond of its kind from sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In March 2017, LSE published its first “Companies to Inspire Africa” report, identifying hundreds of the fastest-growing and most dynamic private businesses across Africa. Vivo Energy is the first company in that report to follow up by listing on LSE.
  • In March 2016, LSEG established an Africa Advisory Group, bringing together 12 distinguished business leaders, policymakers and investors from across Africa, to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by the development of the continent’s capital markets.
  • In November 2014, London Stock Exchange Group and The Nigerian Stock Exchange signed a capital markets agreement to support African companies seeking dual listings in London and Lagos. The agreement followed the implementation earlier in 2014 of a unique new cross-border settlement process between the UK and Nigeria.
  • In June 2014, LSEG signed a strategic agreement with Casablanca Stock Exchange to share its expertise on the full exchange business chain, from listing to trading, and from clearing to settlement and custody with a commitment to position Casablanca’s capital markets and financial infrastructure as a regional hub.
  • In April 2014, Nigerian oil and gas group Seplat was the first Nigerian company to simultaneously dual list equity shares in London and Nigeria and raised $500m in an IPO.

LSEG market infrastructure technology, supplied by Millennium IT of Sri Lanka, is deployed in more 12 African markets, including Botswana, Casablanca, Namibia and Johannesburg stock exchanges.

Malawi Stock Exchange to start automated trading in May

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

Malawi Stock Exchange (photo credit: The Times Malawi)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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