The London Stock Exchange (www.londonstockexchange.com) has long been a global centre for capital, particularly where African investments are concerned. It is also the world centre for Eurobonds and several leading African equities are traded in London. There are several reasons to come to London, either through listing or cross-listing, including being closer to investors and sources of capital such as funds and investment trusts and also because investors may find it more attractive to invest in companies that are listed on a well-known and recognized stock exchange. A few international exchanges, including London, Toronto and Australia, are also known as centres for world mining equities and attract specialized listings..
The LSE’s Main Market lists 18 equities for trading that focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. These are mostly South African firms covering food, industrials and mining and the history began with AECI in 1937 and Tongaat-Hulett in 1939. The main board also includes Zimbabwe’s hotel group Meikles, Hwange Colliery and financial services firm NMBZ; Kenya’s Kakuzi food products and Zambian miner ZCCM. All listings after NMBZ (1997) were incorporated outside Africa, including Channel Islands Jersey and Guernsey, Bermuda and UK. The list doesn’t include the “London Five” – Anglo American, BHP Billiton, SAB Miller, Old Mutual and Investec –of giant firms who caused controversy when they moved from South Africa. Africa is now a small part of their operations.
AIM, the LSE’s international market for smaller, growing companies, was created in 1995 for businesses seeking growth capital, including early-stage and venture-capital, as well as more established companies. Sub-Saharan Africa scores only 55 among the 3,000 worldwide companies. The list is dominated by mining companies, many incorporated in UK, offering investors exposure to gold, diamonds, gemstones, uranium, platinum, coal, iron and other metals and minerals spread across Africa from South Africa to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Also on offer are financial services, farming and fishing, water, computer services, real estate, industrial machinery and alternative fuels. Most of the countries of operation are English-speaking, but others include Mozambique and Somalia.