Tunisia’s stock exchange, the Bourse des Valeurs Mobilières de Tunis (www.bvmt.com.tn), aims to play its role in faster economic growth in coming years. On 9 July, Mr. Mohamed fadhel Abdelkefi, President of the BVMT’s management committee, announced a 5-point development strategy for 2011-2013. This will include:
1. Develop the financial market culture and awareness through media and education outreach campaigns and open days
2. Deepen the capital market by making more companies eligible to list
3. Further develop the bond market including possibly a secondary mortgage market
4. Improve the IT platforms, including a new electronic trading and information platform in 2012
5. Develop BVMT staff and human resources through additional training programmes.
There are 58 companies listed for trading. According to CEO Mohamed Bichiou foreign participation makes up about 20% of the market capitalization, which was TND 13.2 billion ($9.6bn) on 30 June. At its 2011 peak on 7 January the TUNINDEX was at 5,217.41, before crashing 23% to a low of 4,033.43 on 25 February after the stock exchange closed during the revolution. It then gained, slipped back to 4,077.05 on 26 May but has since been climbing well and closed at 4,476.94 on 24 August, up 9.8% in 3 months. The construction and building materials index has been the best performing followed by industrial and basic materials companies, while banks have been the worse performing (many investors expected them to take hits on loans to people linked to the former regime of President Ben Ali), followed by insurers.
The first listing of 2011 was technology company Telnet Holding on 23 May at the new BVMT headquarters. The IPO for 2,070,000 shares at TND5.80 each had closed after attracting 3,950 applicants and being 3.2 times oversubscribed. The share started trading at 6.37 and closed on 24 Aug at 9.70. The BVMT is seeking to encourage more listings. During 2010 there were 5 listings, partly encouraged by the reintroduction of tax incentives for companies which list more than 30% of their capital before 2014 to benefit from a 5-year reduction in corporate tax rates, from 30-35% (depending on the sector) to 20%. They included Carthage Cement, one of the most active stocks this year, which raised TNB134.9mn ($98.7mn), and automobile distributor Ennakl which raised TND128.4mn ($93.7mn) as well as insurance company Assurances Salim, reinsurer Tunis Re and Modern Leasing.
Recently the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Union, and Agence Francaise de Développement said they would finance a programme of reforms covering administration, the financial sector, and social services. The World Bank has reportedly offered to lend $500mn for this. Tunisia is in a recession after 2 quarters of GDP shrinkage, including 3.3% in the first quarter. In June the World Bank said it expects GDP growth of 1.5% for 2011, and said Tunisian industrial output was down by more than 15% in the first part of 2011, while foreign tourists’ arrivals fell 45% in the first quarter of the year. The bank says “the pace of economic activity should pick up in Tunisia in 2012” although no rate was given and would be around 5% in 2013.Creating jobs is a key challenge.