A trade in July was one of the first examples of cross-border trading, where a broker in Ghana was able to buy shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange through links with a Nigerian broker. It points the way for closer capital market integration in West Africa, where economic links are already strong.
According to this story on Bloomberg, the trade was executed by Ghana’s CAL Brokers Ltd and Nigeria’s United Capital Securities Ltd. CAL Brokers bought 100 Dangote Cement and 6,000 Guaranty Trust Bank shares from United Capital Securities. It bought the shares for its own portfolio to sell later, paying commission and money transfer costs.
“Investors can now tap into bigger pool of funds,” Geoffrey Maison, a research analyst at CAL, told Bloomberg in an interview. “Investors from Ghana can look out for opportunities on the Nigerian Stock Exchange or BRVM if they can’t get stocks to buy here.”
Wole Shonibare, Deputy Group CEO/ Managing Director, Investment Banking at United Capital PLC wrote: With signed memoranda of understanding (MOU) (recognized by each regulator in the two jurisdictions) in place, Ghana and Nigerian dealing members (broker-dealers) were able to trade among themselves via Sponsored Access. The first trade which was completed on 15 July 2015 was facilitated by the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), in conjunction with the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) with the actual trade conducted by United Capital Securities. This first trade has successfully developed the framework for subsequent trades in the market.
More than 180 securities are listed on the Nigerian bourse, while Ghana Stock Exchange has 35 equities and the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières SA or BRVM, a regional stock exchange bringing together eight countries from a base in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, has 39 deals. Ghana and BRVM have been seeing lower trading volumes.
Four West African exchanges including the Sierra Leone stock exchange are busy with a staged integration process under the West African Capital Markets Integration Council (WACMIC), set up in January 2013 to harmonize the regulatory environment for issuing and trading securities and to develop a common platform for cross-border listing and trading. WACMIC is made up of Chief Executives of the regulators (securities commissions) and of the securities exchanges. Adu Anane Antwi, director general of Ghana’s Securities and Exchange Commission told Bloomberg the council had been working on rules and technicalities of cross market trade since 2012.
The current phase is.known as “sponsored access”. Maison said broker can ask a dealer in another country to execute trades on its behalf, Maison said. Previously, an investor wanting to buy equities in another country would have to go through an audit before opening an account with a broker.
Antwi said: “Even at this first stage if you’re interested in a Nigerian stock you don’t have to go to Nigeria to find a broker,” Antwi said. “You can buy the stock by talking to a broker here.”
Next step will be “direct access”. Traders will be able to execute transactions in other markets. The final is a common board to display prices across the 4 markets. This is facilitated as the exchanges have automatic trading and allow direct market access (DMA)
According to United Capital’s Shonibare: This landmark transaction is important and beneficial to West Africa and the African financial markets in many ways. Liberalizing capital transactions across any region is the first step for integrated capital markets. Over the years, African financial markets have been left vulnerable to volatility resulting from massive portfolio inflows from countries that share little economic similarities with the region, causing a significant bout of macroeconomic instability in the domestic financial markets. The Ghana-Nigeria deal is expected to be a precursor to greater capital flows within a sub-region that already operates a liberalized trade environment.
In the near term, market operators intending to participate in this laudable initiative would need to scale up their IT support for trading securities as transactions can only be done electronically while orders would require an order management system that is synchronized with the local Stock Exchange. There is need to provide information about investment opportunities across markets within the region as this will help boost inter-market dealings by investors and assist market operators increase their revenues. Stronger Settlement system is also important. Additionally, there is need for a more robust banking system across markets such that investors can make payments in local currencies where orders are originated irrespective of the market they are trading into as this will help increase the volume/value of trades. Finally, there is urgent need to pass the enabling laws that would allow electronic trading and direct market access to take place in the various exchanges within the region.