African companies are becoming more open to the idea of trading shares on their stock exchanges, and as many as nine newcomers could list on West Africa’s regional stock market in 2014, according to a Bloomberg report.
Stock markets in Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and Nigeria are among the world’s 15 best performers this year, the report said.
The West Africa bourse switched to real-time trading this week to lure more foreign investors, extending its two-hour trading day that originally ended at 10:30 a.m. to a six-hour day ( 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
The longer hours will enable foreign buyers in different time zones to invest more easily, said Gabriel Fal, president of the market’s board of governors. The bourse is based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
“Real-time trading is a necessary step” because some international funds are only allowed to invest into real-time markets, Fal said.
Three of the newcomers are expected to come from Ivory Coast and three from Senegal, Fal said. Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali may each have a listing, he said, declining to name any of the companies. The last initial public offering was Bank of Africa Burkina Faso in December 2010.
The unnamed companies that may list mostly operate in banking, insurance, telecommunications and commodities industries, Fal said.
A share sale by Bamako, Mali-based telecom Sotelma, planned for mid-2012, was delayed after a coup in Mali that year.
Senegal’s Sonatel, which offers mobile-phone service in four West African countries and is 42-percent owned by France Telecom SA, is the biggest company on the BRVM by capitalization. Its shares gained 24 percent this year.
The Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières or BRVM is a regional stock exchange serving West African countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
Most of the 37 companies on the exchange are from Ivory Coast, which has the largest economy in the eight-member West African Economic and Monetary Union. The best performer this year is Abidjan-based Uniwax SA, a fabric printer owned by London-based private-equity company Actis LLP. The stock has risen almost fivefold this year.