Archive for the 'Stock Exchanges' Category

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.

London Stock Exchange appoints David Schwimmer as CEO

David Schwimmer, CEO of the London Stock Exchange from 1 August.

The London Stock Exchange has appointed 49-year-old David Schwimmer as its new CEO, starting on 1 August. He has been working for investment bank Goldman Sachs for the last 20 years. The news was released in an LSE press release on 13 April.

He replaces Xavier Rolet, who left the LSE in November as part of a governance crisis sparked by 5% shareholder TCI Fund Management. Since then David Warren has run LSE as interim chief executive and he will return to his job as LSE’s chief financial officer.
Schwimmer, based in New York, is the head of Goldman Sachs’ market structure business and metals and mining businesses.

Schwimmer’s career at Goldman Sachs includes: advising exchanges and stockbrokers, working as chief of staff to chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, when he was the bank’s chief operating officer, jointly running the bank’s business in Russia (2006-2009) and then becoming head of metals and mining in 2011. He returned to advising exchanges in 2017 as he added the role of the head of market structure.

According to the LSE Chairman, Donald Brydon, in the press release: “David is a leader with great experience in the financial market infrastructure sector, which he has been closely involved in throughout his investment banking career, as well as capital markets experience in both developed and emerging markets. He is well known for his robust intellect and partnership approach with clients and colleagues alike.”

A key task will be to manage the Brexit transition, and defend the LSE’s position as the world’s biggest clearing house for derivative transactions against competition from European exchanges, particularly Germany’s Deutsche Börse. LSE controls London Clearing House (LCH), which processes about three-quarters of the €1 trillion-a-day ($1.2trn) clearing market for derivatives, acting as a middleman between buyers and sellers of complex contracts.

He has extensive experience in mergers and acquisitions and will be able to buy new companies in line with LSE strategy. According to the Financial Times Rolet had turned the LSE into a “£15bn ($21bn) European powerhouse via a string of deals”. A merger with Deutsche Börse AG failed in 2017 and there has been speculation that US group Intercontinental Exchange could bid for LSE, although ICE says that one issue is the UK’s future outside Brexit. Chicago Mercantile Exchange has also been described as a potential bidder.

It quotes Bill Brodsky, former chief executive of Cboe Global Markets: “He’s a very articulate, very intelligent, very engaging personality… David has a deep global markets background and is extremely knowledgeable about the industry. He is eminently qualified to lead London Stock Exchange Group.”

The LSE says Schwimmer will be paid £775,000 ($1.1m) plus a bonus opportunity of up to 225% and will receive £1.05m ($1.5m) to make up for not getting his 2018 bonus from the US investment bank, plus other incentives. He is a graduate in English from Yale and with a JD degree from Harvard Law School. His passions are baseball (Mets) and outdoors, according to Bloomberg.

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRVM investment open days – 14 March Johannesburg

BRVM in Abidjan (photo Tom Minney African Capital Markets News)

One of the world’s most successful regional stock exchanges, linking eight West African countries with a stable currency and fast growth, will come to South Africa to outline investment opportunities. The Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM), headquartered in investment destination Côte d’Ivoire, will meet South African fund managers and market experts on March 14 at “BRVM Investment Days in Johannesburg”. This exclusive investor forum is part of a global 2018 BRVM roadshow.

Edoh Kossi Amenounve, CEO of the BRVM, will outline strategic developments on the exchange, including: investor-friendly trading and disclosure, working with London and Casablanca stock exchanges to boost growth companies in the region, and a board for mining companies after big discoveries in the region.

Other speakers are:
• Dominic Bruynseels, Regional CEO West Africa for Standard Bank, which sees the potential for growth in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) region and opened its first branch in Côte d’Ivoire in August 2017
• Samira Mensah, Associate Director of Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings, with an overview of banks in the region as well as fixed income and other securities
• Michael Barnes, Head of Sales and Trading at stockbroker African Alliance, one of the leading South African stockbrokers for trading on the BRVM exchange.

The speakers will share insights on the economies – the IMF forecasts growth at 6.5% or 6.6% a year across the region until 2021 – and on sectors, shares and key investment themes. It is a unique opportunity for South African institutions to learn more about the potential of Africa as regional links become stronger.

WAEMU combines eight West African countries with a population of 110 million: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. WAEMU shares a single currency, the CFA franc, which is linked to the value of the euro (EUR), and a single central bank and capital markets regulator.

Mr Amenounve says: “South African investors are taking increasing interest in the opportunities in Africa as the world’s long-term growth story. The West African region offers fast, diversified growth and interesting lessons on regional development and economic linkages. In our countries, demographics, development, technology and increasing productivity all offer opportunities and the regulated exchange market offers liquidity and support to investors.”

The BRVM has 45 listed companies and is Africa’s sixth biggest exchange in terms of market capitalization with $12.5 billion in shares listed at end December 2017, plus 32 government and corporate bonds and five sukuk. To register online, please visit www.brvminvestmentdays.org.

Contact person for all event-related questions: Ms. Aziza Albou Traore ceo@azmediaagency.com Tel: +1 646 3772178
For any event-related or media enquiries, please contact: Ms. Glynis Loizeau: glynis@azmediaagency.com Tel: +33-6-83-48-75-85

This event is organized by AZ Media Agency www.azmediaagency.com
Twitter @BRVM_UEMOA #BRVMInvestmentDays

Africa’s top stock exchange performance in 2017

Despite a great year on the main US markets in 2017, many African stock exchanges offered USD investors a higher return. Biggest gain in USD was the Malawi Stock Exchange index, which climbed by 56.0%. It was among 6 African exchanges that outperformed the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which scored a strong 28.2% gain in 2017.
Other leading African stock exchange indices included Ghana, up 43.8%, Uganda up 30.7%, Mauritius 29.9% and South Africa JSE All Share up 29.7%.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Industrial Index climbed 124.2%. However, most analysts rebase the market using the Old Mutual Implied Rate (OMIR), comparing the price of Old Mutual shares listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange with the same shares on the London Stock Exchange to act as an inflation adjustor, since local dollar values do not reflect international dollar values. On the OMIR basis, the ZSE still gained a creditable 28.5%.
Other leading African markets such as Nigeria (Main Board index up 25.4%, but still to gain its previous highs of April 2014 and 2008) and Egypt’s EGX 30 (up 24.1%) also delighted investors.

Source – index data from Bloomberg and stock exchange websites compiled by Securities Africa

Stockbroker Securities Africa (www.securitiesafrica.com) shed light on which of the major counters helped drive 2017 index performance:
• Botswana: Botswana Insurance Holdings Ltd (+14.2%), Barclays Bank of Botswana (+31.1%) and Choppies Enterprises (+9.0%) led the gains in the major names in Botswana.
• BRVM: Whilst Sonatel closed the year 11.29% higher, Ecobank Transnational Inc closed 17.8% lower in USD terms. The currency was also weaker (-10.44%) for the year, contributing to the decline in the USD value of the Index. This was the only Index that closed in negative territory in 2017.
• Egypt: Eastern Tobacco was the stand-out performer, closing the year up 229.3% in 2017.
• Ghana: Standard Chartered Bank was the main driver behind the GSE performance in 2017, gaining 95.7% in USD terms.
• Kenya: Telecom giant Safaricom closed the year 40.2% higher taking responsibility for a large part of the index performance.
• Malawi: Illovo Sugar (+50.4%) and Telekom Networks Malawi (+110.2%) were the two major movers in 2017 in USD.
• Mauritius: Heavyweights MCB Group and SBM Holdings gained 35.5% and 20.5% respectively.
• Morocco: The two banks, Attijariwafa Bank (+28.5%) and Banque Central Populaire (+14.3%) were the big name gainers in Morocco.
• Namibia: Namibia Breweries was the major contributor to the strong local index performance as it gained 55.1%.
• Nigeria: Dangcem (+15.4%), Nestle (+67.7%), Guaranty (+48.2%), Zenith (+55.4%) and Stanbic (+130.9%) contributed to a strong index performance in 2017.
• Rwanda: Bank of Kigali gained 26.7% to help the index close in the positive band.
• S. Africa: Naspers and Glencore led the big name gainers finishing the year 88.8% and 49.3% higher in USD terms.
• Tanzania: Tanzania Breweries and Tanzania Cigarette were the major name strong performers, gaining 20.2% and 52.6% respectively.
• Tunisia: Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie closed 31.4% higher and Attijari Bank followed suit, gaining 26.6%.
• Uganda: Stanbic Uganda (+9.9%) and Jubilee Holdings (+17.3%) were the major names that helped the index gain significantly during the period.
• Zambia: Standard Chartered Bank (+58.5%), Zambian Breweries (+13.0%) and Copperbelt Energy (+64.5%) were the major drivers behind the Lusaka Stock Exchanges performance.
• Zimbabwe: Using the Old Mutual Implied rate, the market closed 28.5% higher for 2017. The two major names in Zimbabwe, Delta and Econet, were up 77.8% (17.8% OMIR) and 216.7% (49.7% OMIR) respectively. British American Tobacco which closed the year 136.1% (31.2% OMIR) higher was also one of the best performing names.

Highest ranked African securities exchange websites

Which African stock exchange website gets the most traffic? According to www.Alexa.com, a respected benchmark of web traffic, in rankings today (9 January) the Nigerian Stock Exchange website (www.nse.com.ng) was ranked #83,112 busiest website in the world and #826 website in Nigeria. It has great user engagement, with 3.1 page-views per visitor and each visitor spends an average of 5 minutes 39 seconds on the site.

The next busiest African securities exchanges websites were Egyptian Exchange (www.egx.com.eg, climbing to rank #124,904), South Africa’s JSE (www.jse.co.za, #157,543), on a slow decline since June 2017 but also good user engagement, West Africa’s regional BRVM exchange (www.brvm.org, ranking climbing recently to #219,284) covering eight markets and Nairobi Securities Exchange (www.nse.co.ke) with ranking of #297,989.

(photo credit Nigerian Stock Exchange)

Last month in a press release from the Nigerian bourse Olumide Orojimi, Head, Corporate Communications, NSE, said: “We are delighted to see this increase in traffic to our website as it means that we are making the Nigerian capital market easily accessible to investors who are increasingly residing online.

“At the NSE, we are committed to bridging the information gap between the Exchange and market participants, knowing the high correlation between market information (stock market prices, market data, corporate actions and news) and decision making. We are glad our website is also helping us to achieve this.

The NSE has upgraded its website to be more friendly to users with mobile phones and tablets, and has boosted content and improved layout and navigation. Orojimi says: “The revamp was fuelled by feedback from users that wanted certain high demand pages easier to navigate and some key changes implemented. For example, using analytics from visits and usage of our website, we added filter functionality to the corporate disclosure page to enable users browse through results filed by listed companies easily. Our online visitors can now experience a more vibrant and seamless view of our offerings”.

African issuers raise $1.4bn in IPO share offers in 2017

African share issuers have raised $1,379 million ($1.4bn) in 2017 through initial public offers (IPOs) of shares, compared to $1,154m ($1.2bn) in 2016, the second year of increase. However, the number of domestic African IPOs was down to 7, compared to 15 in 2016. The number of cross-border IPOs in Africa was 2 in each year.

The research was released today (15 December) in the latest Global Cross-Border Index from law firm Baker McKenzie. African issuers raised a total of 19.5% more capital in 2017 through IPOs was up 19.5% on 2016. Worldwide, issuers have increased IPO activity by 44% to $206.6bn and there were 1,694 new listings, up 31%.

Swiss issuers accounted for both cross-border IPOS in Africa in 2017. Aspire Global Plc listed on the Nasdaq First North Exchange, raising $38.96m, and Rainbow Rare Earths Ltd raised $8.22m when it listed on the London Stock Exchange. The total they raised was $47m, compared to $246m raised through cross-border IPOs in 2016.

Wildu du Plessis, Partner and Head of Africa at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, commented in a press release: “Africa’s uneven FDI (foreign direct investment) picture reflects the global uncertainty, but local challenges aggravate the unevenness.

“IPO activity is highly dependent on political and economic instability, particularly in the key markets of South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria. In 2016, more FDI flowed to the hub economies, with new East and West Africa clusters emerging. This trend also dominated in 2017, and while South Africa has the most attractive exchange for issuances, the new clusters are shaping up to drive the IPO landscape going forward.”

“African economies have also engaged in repricing. The most tangible manifestation of this repricing has been rapid fall in some currencies as export revenues slid. This has created shortages of foreign exchange. The currency slide, has in turn, led to an increase in consumer prices, which impacted the retail, logistics, and other consumer-oriented sectors. Currency falls, however, can also create longer-term opportunities, because assets become cheaper,” he said.

Du Plessis added that he expected in coming years that more governments across Africa will privatize state-owned entities through listings, this would boost development of regulatory frameworks. In turn this will inspire market confidence in African bourses. Privatizations can be partial or full.

“In addition, removing barriers to cross-border investments through regional integration, would harmonize regulations and increase cross-border investments. This would provide more choices of financial products for investors in future,” he noted.

Global IPOs

According to Baker McKenzie, worldwide IPO volumes in 2017 reached the highest level since 2007. Momentum built through the year with an acceleration in both volume and value of capital raised in the second half. In total, 1,694 companies raised $206.6bn from IPOs, a jump of around a third in both value and volume on 2016. Both cross-border and domestic activity grew.

Cross-border deals jumped by 60% in volume, growing in all regions, including Latin America, which saw its first cross-border listing in 10 years. However, growth in cross-border capital was once again outpaced by growth in domestic capital raising, which rose 55% in value. This led to a slight decline in Baker McKenzie’s Global Cross-Border Index.

Koen Vanhaerents, Global Head of Capital Markets at Baker McKenzie, commented: “The IPO market in 2017 has put in its best performance in 10 years. A more stable political environment in some of the key markets, combined with strong economic growth, has boosted both the number of listings and the volume of capital raised.”

“With key risks to the global economic outlook easing, we expect IPOs to hit a new post-financial crisis high in 2018,” he added. “We recently forecast that domestic IPO activity will continue to rise, to a peak of over $220bn in 2018.”

About: “Baker McKenzie helps clients overcome the challenges of competing in the global economy. We solve complex legal problems across borders and practice areas. Our unique culture, developed over 65 years, enables our 13,000 people to understand local markets and navigate multiple jurisdictions, working together as trusted colleagues and friends to instil confidence in our clients (www.bakermckenzie.com).

London Stock Exchange – blue blood in the City after shoot out

“Quentin Tarantino couldn’t have written it better. After weeks of everyone at the London Stock Exchange pointing guns at each other, Reservoir Dogs-style, on Wednesday they all pulled the trigger.

“The final scene: Xavier Rolet takes one to the head, Donald Brydon reels from a gutshot, hedge funder Sir Chris Hohn makes a break for it, only to meet a hail of bullets offstage.

“A gory, unedifying, end to a film that, though being great box office, leaves all the cast bloodied.

“Rolet looks truculent in the extreme. Despite his “what, me?” statement today condemning the “unwelcome publicity” around his departure, it’s hard to believe he couldn’t have stopped all this weeks ago by having a quiet word with Hohn — through intermediaries if the gagging order on him prevented direct contact.

“Clearly, and understandably, he was miffed about getting the boot. But by letting the row run for so long, he has self-immolated a successful next career in City chairmanships. Who would hire him now? The manner of his ending will overshadow his extraordinary achievements turning the LSE around.”

This is columnist Jim Armitage in yesterday’s Evening Standard in London.

“This whole film would be fun were it not for the fact that the LSE is weakened just as it needs to be at its strongest.

“The Stock Exchange is about as essential to the City’s future financial dominance as you can get, and with Brexit coming, it has rarely been so challenged by EU rivals.

“The only character to emerge with reputation enhanced, is Mark Carney. Back in the day, the Governor of the Bank of England could order companies into line with a raise of the eyebrow. Carney lifted his beetle brow yesterday, declaring himself “mystified” by the whole affair. Within 24 hours, the squabble was over.”

The announcement from the London Stock Exchange Group came yesterday. Xavier Rolet said in the statement: “Since the announcement of my future departure on 19 October, ‎there has been a great deal of unwelcome publicity, which has not been helpful to the Company. At the request of the Board, I have agreed to step down as CEO with immediate effect. I will not be returning to the office of CEO or director under any circumstances. I am proud of what we have achieved during the past eight and a half years.”

CFO David Warren took over on £700,000 salary as interim, after 5 years at LSE and previously 9 years as CFO at NASDAQ. The Chairman of the Board, Donald Brydon, announced he would not seek a new term at the London Stock Exchange Group AGM in 2019.

Brydon paid tribute to “Xavier’s immense – indeed transformative – contribution to the business.” According to one newspaper report in City AM, over 9 years: “Rolet is widely acknowledged to have driven the LSE from a declining, if venerable, City stalwart to a major player on the international scene through acquisitions”,

The Financial Times has a great article on the drama including charts of LSE mergers and acquisitions in the top rank of world stock exchanges since 2005, and changes in the LSE share price compared to that of other exchanges.

The row started on 19 October when it was announced that the Board was looking for a successor for Rolet to leave by the end of December 2018 . That follows Rolet saying he would leave if a $13.8bn merger with Deutche Börse did not succeed – it was blocked by regulators – but then saying he would stay indefinitely. Activist shareholder Sir Chris Hohn of the Children’s Investment Fund (TCI) called for a shareholder meeting to discuss the dismissal in view of Rolet’s excellent track record.

Commentators did not dispute the track record, where Rolet transformed the institution which is at the heart of the City of London’s standing. On 4 Nov, columnist Anthony Hilton wrote this insightful defence of corporate governance and the foolhardiness of overruling the authority of the Board. “The chief executive is accountable to the board, and the board has a duty to tell him or her when it is time to go. What makes it so tough is that the problem invariably lies not with poor-quality bosses, who are relatively easy to show the door; the challenge is reining in those who have done well, those who have shown the vision and skill to move the business to a new and altogether higher level and who have in the process built a significant fan club. But it needs to be done. A major reason why good companies fail is that boards fail to exercise proper control over a successful leader who evolves into an over-mighty chief executive, and are then powerless when he overreaches himself. The danger is hubris.”

According to the FT the row is not yet over. It says the share price of LSE is down 2% since the October announcement, while that of Deutsche Börse is up more than 12%. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing is the other big winner, up nearly 8&, followed by CME (over 6%). The LSE share price has had a great run under Rolet.

Rolet is on “gardening leave” for the next 12 months on his £800,000 salary, although he tweeted yesterday morning “I doubt if my wife would tolerate me meddling with her vineyard although I do sample the product every now and then”. According to the news his total payout including annual bonus, deferred bonuses and long-term incentives could be up to £13m.

On 28 Nov, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, said he was “mystified by the debate” but called for “clarity… as soon as possible”. According to City AM newspaper he said: “I can’t envision a circumstance where the CEO [chief executive] stays on beyond the agreed period.”

The Bank, which regulates the London Stock Exchange as owner of LCH (clearing house) had been informed of the LSE’s plans to appoint a new head before Rolet publicly announced his retirement in October, and has been kept updated on progress, Carney said.

Carney hailed Rolet’s “extraordinary contribution” to the LSE.