Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Integration of W/African stock exchanges coming

image Stock exchanges in West Africa are to be integrated to provide a platform for cross-border trading in the sub-region.

The plan which is short of outright merger will enable investors and dealers to trade in the exchanges of the countries involved in the project. The integration involves the exchanges of Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and the seven other francophone countries.

It is being spearheaded by Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, director general of the Nigeria Stock Exchange with her Ghanaian counterpart, Frank Adu. Okereke-Onyiuke who revealed the plan exclusively to Business Day said the integration will have multiplier effect on the sub-region.

"We want to integrate our stock exchanges so that we can compete for funds from foreign and local investors. When we are big, strong and robust, investors will be attracted to us,’ she said.

According to her, when actualised, investors would be exposed to stocks that are traded on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, the Ghana Stock Exchange, and the eight erancophone countries that make up the BRVM in Cote d’Ivoire. Explaining how investors can use the integrated platform, she said that if, for example, an investor is trading in Cote d’Ivoire, he is trading in 10 countries put together in addition to the three major stock exchanges in the whole of West Africa put together. "So we will be able to attract and sustain the confidence of investors if we integrate," she added.

"We are not merging, as there is a difference between merger and integration. We are only integrating now with the quotation of the Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI). As it is, if you want to buy ETI you don’t have to fly to Ghana, Nigeria, or the Ivory Coast. You can access and execute that stock wherever you are on any of the three markets and if you want to buy others that are available on the Ghana Stock Exchange, on the same transaction, you can look at the availability on the Nigerian exchange or in one of the BRVM in Cote d’Ivoire," she added.

Explaining the additional benefits of the integration, the NSE boss said it will boost the voice of the sub-region on the continent. "If you go to the bigger bodies, the African Stock Exchange Conference, we the West African integrated exchange will be speaking with one voice. So if we have an integrated, strong, regional exchange in West Africa, we will also make a big force in West Africa. We will also make a big force in the African continent, and the World Federation of Exchanges", she said.

Her optimism and enthusiasm on the project is shared by Adu, director general of the Ghana Stock Exchange who spoke with Business Day. "An integrated West African stock market will present Ghanaian investors with a much bigger market because cross border listings will be seen as the market for the West African sub region", he said.

The bigger platform would present investors with a wider perspective of investment opportunity, adding, "I think Ghanaians stand to benefit more from an integrated West African market."

To Adu, the power crisis in Nigeria, Ghana, and Benin Republic should be seen as a good opportunity to build the stock markets in these countries.

No time frame was given for the actualization of the integration plan, but Oereke-Onyiuke said it is being pursued vigorously and should come so stream soon.

The occasion which was sponsored by the London Stock Exchange and hosted by the Nigerian Stock Exchange brought representatives from the Ghana stock Exchange and a host of Nigerian Financial institutions as the aim was to remove misconceptions and offer advise to companies who seek the prestige of being at the center of being at the capital markets and to underline the many practical benefits of doing so in London. The conference had the theme: "Raising capital in London"

BusinessDay... the voice of business - Integration of W/African stock exchanges coming