Mauritius Stock Exchange eyes African mainland for expansion

INTERNATIONAL - The Stock Exchange of Mauritius has outgrown the tropical island, better known for its white sands than as a finance center, and is now setting its sights on the African mainland for expansion.

Having rapidly grown since its establishment 30 years ago, when brokers gathered around a blackboard once a week for about 10 minutes to put orders on the five available stocks, the Port Louis-based bourse’s main board now boasts about 150 listed securities including 60 companies on its main board. The total market capitalization for local companies is 256 billion rupees ($7.1 billion) and is heavily weighted toward banks and finance with those making up over 40% of the weighting on the main board.

Most of the Indian Ocean island’s major companies are listed, with MCB Group Ltd. being the largest with a market value equivalent to $1.9 billion. The exchange last year created an Africa Board, which has 26 traded securities, to attract more international issuers. The latest addition took place this month with $500 million in notes from the Trade & Development Bank, a trade financier with 22 African countries as members. Other pan-African lenders that have listed products are Afreximbank and the African Development Bank.

“All the major players are there,” said Chief Executive Officer Sunil Benimadhu, 59, referring to local companies. “Our strategy is more international. We want to go beyond as this is the only way for us to bring our contribution to position Mauritius as an international finance center.”

The Stock Exchange of Mauritius, which boasts an elaborate nautical compass as its logo, has adopted a strategy that a bigger African rival, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, tried and failed. The JSE, whose main board has a market value of 13.64 trillion rand ($973 billion), ran an Africa Board from 2009 to 2015 and attracted only three listings including Trustco Group Holdings Ltd. of Namibia and the now suspended Wilderness Holdings Ltd. of Botswana.

Zulu Cannabis

The Mauritian Africa board includes Go Life International Ltd., a healthcare company that’s exploring growing cannabis with the trust of South Africa’s Zulu kingdom, and Africa Clean Energy Solutions Ltd., a clean energy company that focuses on Africa.

“Since 2015 we have declared our intent to position the SEM as an attractive listing platform for African issuers but also for international issuers doing business in Africa,” Benimadhu said in an interview. “We have to extend our reach. Not only within the African continent but also in emerging markets.”

The exchange could consider a partnership to help further its strategy, he said.

“We are open to be partly owned by a foreign partner,” said Benimadhu.

The information on this page may have been provided by a contributor to ChinaGoAbroad, and ChinaGoAbroad makes no guarantees about the accuracy of any content. All content shall be used for informational purposes only. Contributors must obtain all necessary licenses and/or ownership rights from the relevant content owner(s) before submitting such content (including texts, pictures, photos and diagrams) to ChinaGoAbroad for publication. ChinaGoAbroad disclaims all liability arising from the publication of any content/information (such as texts, pictures, photos and diagrams that infringe on any copyright) received from contributors. Links may direct to third party sites out of the control of ChinaGoAbroad, and such links shall not be considered an endorsement by ChinaGoAbroad of any information contained on such third party sites. Please refer to our Disclaimer for more details.