South Africa’s stock exchange became the latest to list its own shares on Monday with the trading debut of the JSE Ltd.
The 118-year-old Johannesburg exchange, whose shares had traded over the counter since it demutualised last July, said it had made the move in order to offer investors greater transparency and visibility. The market is the biggest in Africa and the world’s 17th largest, with total capitalisation of R3,500bn ($522bn) at the end of 2005 and just under 400 companies listed.
“We think it will be easier for shareholders to buy and sell shares now that it is listed,” Nicky Newton-King, the JSE’s deputy chief executive, said.
The JSE now joins other international bourses that have listed their own shares, including the London and New York Stock Exchanges, the Deutsche Börse, Euronext, Nasdaq, and the Australian Stock Exchange. The company’s market capitalisation is just over R2bn.
Johannesburg’s stock exchange was founded in 1887, a year after the discovery of the rich Witwatersrand goldfields, in which originated some of the world’s biggest mining companies. In June 1996 it changed its open outcry trading floor to a centralised, automated trading system.
With the opening of South Africa’s economy to global competition after the end of apartheid, many of its best-known companies, including Anglo American and South African Breweries (later SABMiller), moved their primary listings from Johannesburg to London.
More recently, the exchange has reached record highs, pushed up by surging commodity prices and favourable investor sentiment towards South Africa and emerging markets.
Prices have corrected sharply in recent weeks, and the JSE All-Share Index closed down 0.09 per cent yesterday, echoing bearish trends elsewhere. The JSE’s own shares closed 3 per cent lower.
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