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Nigerian Stock Exchange Members Support IPO Plan

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LAGOS, Nov. 18 (Reuters) – The Nigerian stock exchange on Wednesday gained approval from its members for an IPO that will transform the exchange into a publicly traded company and position it as a gateway for foreign investment.

The exchange received support for listing at its annual meeting, he said, paving the way for stock offerings to the public. It will not issue new shares in the listing.

“We believe we can become a financial hub for Africa and with the support of our stakeholders … this goal can become a reality,” said Oscar Onyema, CEO of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, who is also CEO of the group under the new structure.

The exchange began changing its ownership structure to a mutual brokerage firm in 2017, adding new shareholders in a process known as demutualization.

It re-registered as a for-profit, shareholder-owned entity called Nigerian Exchange Group Plc. It operated as a non-profit entity.

The approval allows the exchange to list 2 billion ordinary shares of 0.50 naira. It has not set a listing date, on which brokers will hold 78% of the shares.

The stock exchange, the second largest in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the main entry points for investing in the continent, has around 200 listed companies, all of which are included in its benchmark stock index.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), the largest and most developed on the continent, has been a publicly traded company since 2006.

Nigeria has Africa’s largest economy, but the equity market has seen sales this year after the dollar shortage caused by the impact of COVID-19 hit confidence and deterred foreign investors.

But stocks have risen since October after the central bank cut interest rates the previous month to stimulate growth, and as local funds piled into stocks amid low bond yields. The index has so far increased 27.6% this year. (Additional reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Mark Potter)

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