LAGOS, March 9 (Reuters) - The Nigerian Stock Exchange plans to seek approval from its members on March 30 to proceed with the process of becoming a publicly listed company, it said.
Nigeria’s bourse, the second-biggest in sub-Saharan Africa after Johannesburg and one of the main entry points to invest in Africa, is currently owned by stockbrokers and some institutional investors.
It has around 200 listed companies, all included in its benchmark share index.
The equities market in Africa’s largest economy, was until 2013 one of the world’s best performing frontier markets but low liquidity levels and currency restrictions have now deterred foreign investors.
This year, shares in the oil producing-nation have lost around 7 percent to add to the 6.2 percent loss last year reflecting an economic crisis there caused by low oil prices.
But on Thursday stocks rose to their highest level in a week in naira terms after the governmnent said it was determined to tackle the crisis this year. Stock also surged to a 16-year high in dollar terms.
As a first step, Nigeria’s stock exchange will change its ownership structure from a mutual company of brokers to add new shareholders in a process known as “demutualisation”.
It hopes this will help it improve transparency, product development and deepen the market, leading to more inflows from foreign investors, analysts say.
Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), the continent’s biggest and most developed stock market, has been a listed company since 2006.
Nigeria appointed South African bank FirstRand and local investment firm Chapel Hill Denham to guide it through the process of becoming a listed company. The stock exchange said it will ratify their appointment at the meeting this month.
The bourse has said it will fast-track the listing of exchange traded derivatives this year to help investors manage risk and has created a counterparty clearing house to support the process. (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Toby Chopra)