On the 7th of July 2020, the CoSSE Secretariat hosted a virtual status update meeting for CoSSE Members to give brief updates on the impacts of COVID-19 on respective SADC capital markets and stock exchange operations. The meeting which commenced at 0900hrs and adjourned at 1105hrs, comprised of presentations and conversations around the effects that the novel virus COVID-19 has had on the SADC capital market ecosystems and the business operations aspect.
Given the indefinite postponement of its 57th Bi-annual Meeting due to the pandemic, CoSSE deemed it consequential that members compare experiences and mitigation measures as regards the impact of COVID-19 on economies, including capital markets. Additionally, the Secretariat took the opportunity to invite to the virtual meeting; two principals representing two international institutions that the Secretariat engaged earlier this year to collaborate on separate strategic initiatives by the committee. The purpose of this was to obtain essential feedback on relevant collaborative projects, which yielded productive discussions.
For the brief status updates as given by individual CoSSE Members that attended the meeting, please see the below notes categorised by the country of each member Exchange.
At BODIVA, most of the staff are currently working from home, with remote access to the trading platform and other technical support systems. Additionally, the trading hours of the secondary market and the public securities actions of the primary market have reduced due to cuts in the system payments from the Central Bank. Positively, BODIVA attained high trading records in March and June 2020, reaching AOA 150 billion (approximately USD 262, 229,615) during the latter month. On another positive note, there currently is no record of positive cases of COVID-19 at the Exchange.
According to the BSE, the initial impact of COVID-19 on the domestic capital market was relatively insignificant. However, to date, turnover levels have declined significantly, by approximately 9-fold. The Domestic Company Index (BSE DCI) has since contracted to -4.4% in domestic currency terms (BWP) or -14% in USD terms from January 2020 to June 2020. Also noted, was the highest equity turnover recorded in March, owed to the divesting of foreign investors.
In market development updates, the BSE recently launched its new and improved Website and Mobile App. Additionally, the Exchange is currently in the implementation phase of upgrading the CSD system and the ATS to facilitate the trading of bonds at the Exchange. Lastly, the BSE has adopted its traditional monthly Opening Bell Ceremonies virtually, to adhere to national social distancing requirements.
The ESE turnover level was at its lowest in March 2020, recording 170, 237 compared to the 214,170 recorded in February 2020 and the 1,437, 210 recorded in April 2020, all in domestic currency terms (SZL). The ESE All Share Index decreased by 4% between March 2020 and April 2020. There was a lot of panic selling from investors who anticipated a fall in dividend declaration due to a drop in overall national economic activity. Regarding listings, the ESE was in the process of on-boarding two prospective listings; however, this has come to a halt until further notice.
As the MSM is not operational and has no listings yet, the capital market is unaffected by the events surrounding the pandemic. However, two prospective issuers that had embarked on the listings process with the Securities Market have withdrawn their proposal while they observe the global shifts linked to the pandemic and re-align their respective objectives and needs.
At the SEM, the Main Index declined by 30% earlier in the year. However, it has since rebounded to a 20% decline. The Exchange anticipates trading volumes to contract by up to 40%, mainly due to subdued trading activity in international markets. Furthermore, projections from the SEM show that foreign investors accounting for 25%-35% of daily trading volumes are to divest from the frontier and emerging markets imminently, which will consequently negatively affect the trading volumes on the Exchange. Reassuringly, the SEM envisions the implementation of their new trading platform to be in the next 6-months. Moreover, the Mauritius Health Minister has recently declared the nation free of COVID-19, as the remaining active cases have all recovered.
Similar to neighbouring SADC nations, Mozambique is experiencing the destructive socio-economic effects caused by the pandemic. The BVM stated that SMEs are particularly hard-hit by the lockdown, resulting in severe profit losses and retrenchments; this has motivated the Government to secure USD 30 million for a relief fund to aid the SME sector in alleviating some of the financial distress. In terms of trading activity, the general illiquidity of the market has inadvertently insulated the Exchange from the volatility of panic selling. In addition, an expected dividend declaration for next week from one of the listed companies on the Exchange will boost the capital market. Regarding the market development updates, the Exchange is currently working on revising the existing legal framework as well as upgrading the trading system.
The NSX has implemented preventative measures against the contracting of COVID-19, such as some staff working remotely and prohibiting visitors at the Exchange. As regards capital market activity, the total turnover for the year to date (June 2020) was approximately NAD 5 billion (USD 339,823,206). The NSX Local Index declined by 16% while the NSX Overall Index has declined by 19% from year to date. As for the bond market, the Exchange trading levels recorded NAD 1 billion (USD 58,659,362). Moreover, the Exchange is working on drafting the documentation on the e-Bond trading, the purpose of which is to promote deep and sophisticated bond markets. The NSX has received three new listing applications to date, which is encouraging for the market.
According to MERJ, the Exchange has implemented business continuity plans to ensure effective business operations as staff work remotely. Regarding listings, there are a few in the pipeline, and the on-boarding processes are gradually returning to normal.
In South Africa, the population is the most affected in the region with over 190,000 cases and over 3,000 deaths. The Government implemented a national lockdown at the end of March. As a result, the JSE has managed staff and operations with 99% of its employees working remotely since then. The Exchange recorded its highest trading levels by volume and value during the early stage of the lockdown. Global markets, as with the JSE have recovered some of the March sell-off, with the FTSE/JSE All Share Index (initially sharply declining in excess of 20%) up to close to the level at the start of the year (-2% year to date).
With regard to listed companies, the JSE in conjunction with its regulator put in place certain relief measures, such as extending the period for (i) the publication of financial results and (ii) REIT distribution payments, for issuers with certain year-ends. The JSE expanded its Green Bond Segment into a fully-fledged Sustainability Segment and, with effect from 23 July 2020, interested issuers can list social and sustainability bonds along with green bonds.
While activity has maintained momentum, there are medium term considerations to these volumes being sustained. However, with South Africa often used as a hedge and/or liquid emerging market proxy, this provides a catalyst for trade activity. In terms of new listings, prospective issuers are expected to be coming to the market in the following months. A number of listed companies are raising capital through rights issues or corporate bonds as the appetite for capital increases.
Zimbabwe – FINSEC
According to the FINSEC, the Exchange insulated itself against possible adverse trade levels effected by lockdown and the pandemic in general, through the convenience of their integrated online and mobile trading platform (C-Trade) and automated systems. Furthermore, the Exchange is using this period as an opportunity to develop products that are specific to the needs of the market, considering the economic challenges caused by the pandemic.
Firstly, FINSEC will launch the Growth Enterprises Market (GEM) Portal, which is essentially an online capital application tool designed to allow SMEs to apply for equity or debt funding via an integrated online platform that connects applicants to debt and equity financiers. This initiative affords convenience to SME applicants whose movements have been restricted by the COVID-19 lockdown, yet demand funding to support business operations. FINSEC has also been working on drafting and seeking regulatory approvals of the necessary rules and guidelines to support new products that the Exchange is developing. Commendably, the Government of Zimbabwe announced a Venture Capital Fund to support start-ups and promote employment creation.
MEMBERS OF CoSSE
- Stock Exchange of Angola (BODIVA)
- Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)
- Stock Exchange of Mozambique (BVM)
- Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE)
- Eswatini Stock Exchange (ESE)
- Financial Securities Exchange (FINSEC)
- Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE)
- Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE)
- Seychelles Stock Exchange (MERJ)
- Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE)
- Maseru Securities Exchange (MSM)
- Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX)
- Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM)
- Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)
For more information about CoSSE, visit our website at www.cosse.africa, or contact the Secretariat via telephone at +267 3674421, or email at email@example.com