The U.S. is already the largest investor country for Cape Town-based Shoprite, but now Africa’s largest grocery store chain wants to make it even easier for American investors to buy in, according to a report in BusinessDayLive.
Shoprite chose New York-based financial services company, BNY Mellon, as the depository
bank for its American depositary receipt (ADR) program.
Shareholders in the U.S. cannot have shares registered in their names, but listing depository receipts on the U.S. over-the-counter market lets U.S. investors invest in the local retailer. The stock is held on their behalf by the depository, BusinessDayLive reports.
“By establishing the ADR program, Shoprite hopes to make investing in the company accessible to more international investors, particularly U.S. investors,” the Cape Town-based group said.
Shoprite is the eighth South African company to set up an ADR program in the U.S. this year. Others listing ADRs in 2013 include Clover, Cashbuild, Blue Label Telecoms, Growthpoint Properties and Sibanye Gold. Mr Price listed its ADRs in the U.S. in 2012.
Of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s top-40 stocks, 35 maintain depository receipt programs.
Shoprite opened its 1,000th supermarket in Africa in December. Valued at around R95 billion ($9.5 billion), the company said it planned to open 129 new stores in Africa between July 2013 and June 2014 – 20 of them outside South Africa.
Underdeveloped retail markets, bad-to-no infrastructure and bureaucracy hurdles prevail in Africa, but it hasn’t put off South Africa’s retailers, the report said.
Shoprite earned first-mover status as a continental kingpin, the report said. It began its expansion in 1995 and has supermarkets in 16 African countries with more than 192 stores.
In 2012 Shoprite group raised R8 billion (about $800 million), part of which is being used for capital expenditure.
More than 50 percent of Shoprite shareholders are international, with U.S. investors representing about 62 percent. The U.S.is the largest investor base by country.
Investors want a way to participate in growth, not just in South Africa, but also in sub-Saharan Africa, said Independent Analyst Ian Cruickshanks.
“If (Shoprite) can establish a successful demand for their ADR listing – when emerging markets and South Africa are not that popular – that means success for future capital raising,” he said.
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