The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) this week (18 Nov) signed a capital markets agreement with the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) to support African companies seeking dual listings in London and Lagos. It follows implementation earlier in 2014 of a new settlement process between the UK and Nigeria which significantly boosts the efficiency of listing and trading of ordinary shares of Nigerian companies listed in London and those of UK companies on the Nigerian market.
A top LSEG executive said it shows the global investment community is rushing to be part of the Nigerian story.
The agreement was signed by Oscar Onyema, CEO of the NSE, and Nikhil Rathi, Head of International Development, LSEG. Also present was Sir Roger Gifford, Country Head for the European Bank SEB, former Lord Mayor of London, and Co-Chairman of the UK Government’s Nigeria Emerging Capital Markets Task Force and Nigerian co-chair Aigboje Aig-Imoukhede, President of NSE.
Gifford said, according to the press release: “This is exactly the sort of ambitious project the ECMT Nigeria was launched to support. Nigeria is without doubt one of the most promising opportunities for capital markets development worldwide.
“An effective, transparent and well-governed capital market – across all asset classes – has the capacity to catalyse a nation’s quest for growth and development. In particular, functioning markets for corporate equity and debt reduce the dependence on bank capital and make investment securities available to a broader range of investors: institutional, private and international. This agreement will build on existing strong commercial and economic ties between the UK and Nigeria to our mutual benefit. ”
Mot of the previous dual-listings have listed on London’s AIM market although the milestone April dual-listing of Seplat (see below) saw Seplat head for the main market.
Onyema said: “Today’s agreement is another major step towards our goal of ensuring that all companies that have substantial operations in Nigeria are accessible to both Nigerian and international investors. In addition, we will be ensuring that our leading companies achieve the global profile and international institutional investment they deserve.”
The 9 Nigerian or Nigeria-focussed companies quoted on LSE have a collective market capitalisation of $14.2bn and include 6 oil & gas explorers and 3 major Nigerian banks.
The press release also quoted Rathi: “The agreement signed today is a reflection of the global investment community’s strong desire to be a part of the Nigeria story. As the world’s most international exchange, LSEG looks forward to building on the success of existing dual listings in Nigeria and London and partnering with the NSE to showcase the rapid developments in Nigerian capital markets and the Nigerian economy.”
Seplat dual-listing helping Nigeria bourse towards N1 trillion
Indigenous oil company Seplat was the first to make use of the linkages in April, when it raised $500 million in an Initial Public Offer (IPO) on both exchanges. Euromoney reported it was the first dual-listing and largest IPO from southern Africa since Dangote Cement in 2010. The London end was advised by BNP Paribas, Standard Bank, Citi and RBC Capital Markets, the Nigerian listing by Renaissance Securities and Stanbic IBTC.
The IPO added N28 billion ($161m) to the NSE market capitalization. The bourse aims to reach N1 trillion ($5.7 billion) by 2016 with oil and gas firms a key target.
Euromoney quoted Dolapo Oni, energy research analyst at Ecobank: “To list on the main board in London, Seplat required international accounting standards and the highest levels of corporate governance and transparency, which it has aimed for from its inception in 2009. Many other Nigerian companies are still not comfortable with disclosing this much information to the public and thus are not good enough to list on the main board.”
Miguel Azevedo, head of investment banking Africa at Citi, added: “It also represents the return of the sector to the London market, which hasn’t had a significant oil and gas listing since the financial crisis. Seplat really creates a new benchmark for international companies coming to the market.”
UK pushes emerging capital markets
UK Chancellor George Osborne announced the Emerging Capital Markets Taskforce on 9 April. It aims to unlock new opportunities for the UK financial services sector by helping to open and deepen capital markets in emerging economies through innovative collaboration between Government and private sector. This is part of the strategic public-private sector Financial Services Trade and Investment Board (FSTIB) launched in 2013 and chaired by HM Treasury. More details can be found via the FTSIB website.