The JSE Ltd (www.jse.co.za), South Africa’s securities exchange, is hoping to attract more listings from the rest of Africa in 2012 and to expand its range of products and services. This year should also see the JSE installing its equity trading system in Johannesburg, to avoid dependence on a transatlantic cable connecting it to the London Stock Exchange.
Nicky Newton-King, who took up her post as CEO last week after succeeding Russell Loubser and the first woman to hold the post, told Business Day newspaper the plan was to offer more access to African companies and products such as exchange-traded funds products that enable people to access new investments: “With the rules of inward listing being relaxed, we would also like to attract more inward listings.” Besides IPOs, Newton-King said she expected to see more types of products, such as depository receipts and derivatives linked to companies being offered.
The JSE is in “good conversation” with several companies elsewhere in Africa over more potential listings. Last November she told Reuters: “We’ve got good conversations going … particularly on the continent.” She said the bourse is targeting mining, telecommunications and financial services: “Our approach is to look at issuers that need capital — need investors where their home markets might be too small. So we’ve got a lot of different segments we are looking at, but we are looking at particular issuers rather than trying to speak to everyone.”
The JSE already has 14 African companies listed, with 4 different debt instruments and 1 African ETF. Last year Reuters highlighted that some growing African firms preferred other international exchanges, particularly the London Stock Exchange and its AIM market, over the JSE for raising capital and listings, as highlighted in stories on this website. The JSE seeks closer cooperation with other African exchanges as it competes with other world bourses: “Clearly we need to be trying to find a way to cooperate with African exchanges, with African issuers to bring more African product to the table here in SA, where we have a lot of international investors everyday.”
The JSE attracted a total of 16 listings last year, with a combined market capitalisation of more than R35 billion (US$4.3bn), according to data from the JSE’s director of issuer services, John Burke. There were also a number of initial public offerings from the property sector. About 15 companies de-listed last year and 21 were on the suspended list. The number of new IPOs worldwide is lower since the start of the global financial crisis. Newton-King said there is a pipeline for potential listings in 2012: “Definitely there’s a pipeline, there’s always a pipeline. We never talk about the number since how many companies actually list and when they list is very much dependent on the economic circumstances of the country and whether the companies themselves are ready to list.
“We are looking forward to being able to attract a wider range of companies and investment opportunities on the JSE.”
The plan is still to use the same computer provider, Sri Lanka’s Millennium IT which is a subsidiary of the LSE. In terms of a February 2011 press release, the JSE is to migrate to a new system Millennium Exchange™, which the LSE has also adopted, in the first half of 2012. Millennium IT systems are used on many African stock exchanges.
Newton-King told Business Day she hoped this will minimise the outages experienced last year, which were linked to technical issues on the transatlantic cable. The JSE halted trading on its equity markets at least twice last year, which led to the exchange attracting criticism from trading houses, which often spoke anonymously to the media.
She said: “We are critically dependent on information technology (IT) and invest heavily in IT to ensure it is robust and able to handle increased volumes as the JSE grows. Our equity systems are run in London and there’s been some trading outages in the lines between us and London…. We are bringing the systems back to avoid that. We will continue to look at whether our technology is robust enough to withstand volumes.”
She did not give much information on rumours that the JSE is talking with SA Treasury on starting a trading market for carbon credits but said the JSE was looking at the possibility and how it would work with others.
Of the type of environment that she envisions at the JSE, Ms Newton-King says: “In 2012 I would like the JSE to be recognised as a place of excellence, a place where SA’s top talent would come and work, where our clients recognise that we provide products and services that are valuable to them.”
Her former post as deputy CEO no longer exists and duties that fell to her are being given to other people so that they can also grow.