South Africa’s securities exchange the JSE Limited (www.jse.co.za) increased Group revenues by 9% to R1,255 million ($178 mn) from R1,156 mn in 2009. The exchange described it in a press release as “a fair year in challenging conditions in 2010” and said it focused on operational projects and responding to changes in the global exchange industry. Results were driven by strong performances from the cash equity market, information products sales and commodity derivatives.
CEO Russell Loubser has also announced that he will stand down as CEO at the end of 2011, having taken the post in 1997. His place will be taken by Nicky Newton-King, who has been deputy CEO for eight years.
Commenting on the 2010 results, Loubser in the release: “The past 15 years have been a time of extraordinary development for the JSE. The diversity of revenue streams in the business reflects the fundamental nature of its transformational journey. The JSE’s ability to remain competitive in our fast- changing industry has been maintained through continued growth in product range and trade volumes, as well as tight management of costs while still maintaining world-class standards.”
JSE operating costs before net finance income rose by 8% to R879 mn (2009: R810 mn) resulting in a net profit after tax of R378 mn (2009: R366 mn). Much of the cost increase can be attributed to costs related to the JSE’s large IT projects, which required increased staff numbers. The JSE has no borrowings and R1,046 mn in cash reserves (2009: R921 mn).
The JSE Board has been relatively unchanged for the past decade but CEO Russell Loubser has decided to stand down as CEO with effect from 31 December 2011. JSE non-executive chairman Humphrey Borkum said: “Russell joined the JSE as CEO in 1997 and has been responsible for significant and highly successful innovations. This is not the time to praise or thank Russell for his enormous contribution as he still has 9 months left before leaving the JSE. The time for farewells will come later. I am delighted to announce that the Board has appointed Nicky Newton-King as CEO with effect from 1 January 2012. This appointment is well deserved and will ensure an orderly transition.”
• Growing trading volumes pushed up equities trading revenue again, up 5% year-on-year to R325 mn in 2010 (2009: R310 mn). The number of daily equity trades increased 13% year-on-year (2010: 94,656). The JSE implemented a new equities billing model to incentivise increased trading in March 2010.
• The interest rate market also increased revenue, partly because of including 12 months of revenue, compared to only 6 months before since it was June 2009 when the JSE acquired the Bond Exchange South Africa (BESA). Like-for-like, revenue fell 10% to R35 mn (2009: R38 mn). Bond market volumes in 2010 were driven partly by foreigners entering the SA bond market, with net purchases valued at R58.6 billion (2009: net positive R24 bn). Interest rate derivatives volumes continued to grow off a low base. The JSE continues to discuss the model and ways forward with all market participants.
• In the equity derivatives market, the number of futures contracts traded rose in value and number, but revenue fell slightly owing to a changed product mix. Trade in international derivatives – that is, derivatives on companies listed on a stock market offshore – grew particularly strongly. The team continues to bring new products to the market. To encourage a move to a central order book and to stimulate greater activity on the equity derivatives market, the JSE introduced the maker-taker billing model in July 2010.
• The commodities derivatives market performed well in 2010 with a 12% rise in commodity derivative contracts to 2.1 mn. This is largely owing to a rise in volumes traded in its oldest product set – agricultural product derivatives – but also aided by the expansion of trade into new hard commodities products thanks to a licensing agreement with the CME Group.
• Revenue from the issuer services division which does listings including equities, bonds and other instruments, rose to R86 mn (2009: R79 mn), mainly owing to the inclusion of 12 months of revenue from the interest rate market. The number of new company listings on the JSE rose to 14 in 2010 (2009:10) including one on AltX and one on the Africa Board. Loubser comments: “Listings remained subdued, an experience shared with most other members of the World Federation of Exchanges. Notably, 2010 saw the listing of Wilderness Safaris – the second Africa Board listing.”
• Trade in currency derivatives for 2010 was slightly down on 2009 levels. In 2010, the JSE added contracts on the Swiss franc and Chinese yuan.
• The Information Products Sales division focused on new markets and grew revenue by 7% to R117 mn (2009: R109 mn). The team also expanded its product range and adjusted some fees to give more retail clients access to data.
The global financial services industry is changing fast and the JSE, haveing already changed enormously, has to keep moving. Big technology projects are central to the JSE’s focus for 2011. Other strategic initiatives include:
• Building consensus on the growth of the spot and derivatives interest rate markets;
• Growing the client and product range in all market segments, concentrating particularly on how to bring over-the-counter (OTC) trade on-market and on how to encourage more foreign activity on the JSE derivatives exchange;
• Unlocking the opportunities for investors on the African continent by attracting listings on the JSE’s Africa Board as well as creating indices on African stocks that allow investors to track the performance of top issuers across the continent.
Revenue projections are not possible in the stock exchange industry, since they depend on trading volumes, which are driven by market conditions. Loubser says: “In a globally competitive environment, markets with strong regulation, solid infrastructure and thriving institutions will be better positioned to attract sustainable capital flows. The recognition by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competiveness Report 2010-2011 that South Africa’s securities exchange regulation is the best in the world reflects our transformation from a single product equity exchange to a well regulated fully horizontally and vertically integrated exchange.”
Non-executive directors Gloria Serobe and Wendy Luhabe have indicated that they will not make themselves available for re-election at our AGM in April 2011. Chairman Borkum says: “After having served 10 and 8 years on the Board respectively they have both made significant contributions to the JSE’s affairs and I thank them most sincerely”, says Borkum.
Jonathan Berman resigned during the course of the year due to his other business commitments. He joined the Board as an alternate director following the BESA merger.
Lastly, in terms of accepted practice, it has been decided to shrink the number of executive directors on our Board. Borkum says: “Leanne Parsons and John Burke, who are senior and highly respected executives of the JSE, will both stand down as executive directors at our AGM in April.” They will continue to contribute to the Board as alternate directors.