Paul Bwiso, the former general general manager of stockbroker Dyer and Blair Investment Bank of Uganda, has big plans as new CEO of the Uganda Securities Exchange. His challenges include a challenger exchange, plans to win more listings, more automation, hopes to demutualize the exchange.
Low liquidity in the Ugandan capital market has not deterred a rival exchange, ALTX Uganda, which is currently testing and plans start trading from 1 May. ALTX was founded by Joseph Kitamirike, a previous CEO of the USE. Last month ALTX announced backing from GMEX Group which is offering an “exchange in a box” hosted trading solution and has backing from Deutsche Börse AG and Forum Trading Solutions Limited through its investment vehicle.
According to a recent interview in Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper, Bwiso, who has been on the exchange’s governing council, says: “My plan is to correct the way we have been doing things… We know the problem with the way things have been done. We shall review some of regulations in order to open up the market.”
He is confident on ALTX: “They were only putting us on the edge but I believe we are in a stronger position.”
He admits the market has struggled to attract listings while Ugandan companies are also seeking to raise money: “We’ll have to sell the potential of the main market segment, growth enterprise market segment and corporate bonds. In about 18 months, if we can fix the system here, then I see about 7 listings,” he said.
Market capitalization on the USE was UGX 28.6 trillion ($9.8 billion) including dual-listed stocks, according to today’s (12 March) market report. A recent news report put the value of 8 local stocks at $1.27bn, dominated by Stanbic Bank Uganda with $600m of market capitalization (measured by number of shares multiplied by closing share price). Power distributor Umeme attracted a lot of interest when it came to the market in November 2012 and since then the share price is up from UGX340 to UGX500 today.
So far only 40,000 Ugandans have registered as shareholders, according to the 2014/15 national budget speech, out of a population of 37.6 million. Liquidity both to invest and to exit have been some of the major worries.
It took the USE governing council more than a year to find the right successor to Kitamirike, according to the report.