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I follow Q4 closely because they are world leaders in what they do. I have no financial interest in Q4. Unfortunately. But what they say rings so true with my mission in life. There are good reasons for this.

With regulators, directors and investors in Africa lagging their first world peers, but with listed companies seeking capital and investment in the “last frontier”, the prospect of enabling African listed companies to empower themselves (rather than relying on brokers and regulators) in reaching out to investors is very compelling. For me at least – because the absence of progressive capital markets regulators (in the adoption of the internet as a communications and investment promotion tool) means that listed companies should be given the reins to determine their own future. The reasons are : there’s an absence of information, its good corporate governance, it builds brand and corporate reputation and the upside is great.

Anyway I take the liberty of replicating Q4′s blog below because I want to send their message to listed companies in Africa. Bizarrely, what Q4 is saying in first world markets has even more relevance in African markets. For me at least.

A few notes about IR in African markets:-

- newswires are not used (with a few exceptions)

- conference calls are not used (with a few exceptions)

- podcasts are not used (with a few exceptions)

Here goes the message from Q4

“Late last week the SEC issued guidance on how companies can use corporate web sites and blogs for the release of material information under regulation Fair Disclosure. This timely announcement has the potential to dramatically impact the corporate disclosure industry.

Rather than outlining the content of the guidance I thought I would provide some initial thoughts on what I see as being the key messages of the interpretive release. If you are not familar with the guidance please see the following links for more information.

SEC Docs

Some Initial Blog Posts

Here are a few initial take aways from the announcement:

The playing field of disclosure has been leveled. Newswires no longer have the built in demand for their services that they did before. (NYSE still mandates the use of wires but the assumption is that they will follow suit). This does not mean that the Newswire’s are going out of business, but it certainly means they are going to have to compete with more than just each other moving forward. Newswires will need to look closely at their business model and determine how they are going to compete in a world where the distribution of information is free (welcome to the Internet).

The press release is not dead. There is nothing in any of the SEC announcement that speaks to companies not using a press release. The press release is a document type, not a distribution method. It can be posted to a corporate web site, company blog or sent out over a newswire. IROs and public companies have well defined controls and procedures around the creation of press releases and other disclosure documents. This recent announcement does not impact the importance of using a press release to disclose information to the market, just how the press release gets from the company to the investor.

In order for information to be “Public” (and applicable to RegFD) the corporate web site needs to meet 3 criteria.

  1. a company web site is a recognized channel of distribution
  2. posting of information on a company web site disseminates the information in a manner making it available to the securities marketplace in general, and
  3. there has been a reasonable waiting period for investors and the market to react to the posted information.

As you can see, these are quite general and not prescriptive, this means that companies will need to be committed to meeting these guidelines and likely it also means that new vendors will step up to help. This criteria warrants a post on its own, so I won’t go into detail on each aspect here.

The guidance is principle based and future proof. If the SEC had come out and said “you must use RSS and email alerts” it would be creating the same problem it is now getting out of. By using a principle based approach it allows the market to determine what is acceptable and ensures that certain technologies and/or companies are not able to create protected industries (like the newswires did). Having said that, a principle based approach also creates a grey zone that lawyers do not like, which means that the mass market of issuers will likely not change anything, until the market adopts a new standard. This will require forward-thinking issuers and vendors to innovate and create this new standard.

The corporate web site is the podium for all disclosure. We’ve been saying this for some time (as have many others) but it is now official. The corporate web site is the hub of corporate disclosure. With this new guidance and the combined innovated efforts of issuers and vendors, we will continue to see the corporate site dominate the world of disclosure for the foreseeable future.

I would certainly advise all those in the corporate disclosure space to read the full 47 page report. It’s long but there are some great comments in there.”


NOTE: This blog entry is sourced from the company blog for Q4 Web Systems a leading provider of on-demand software for corporate and investor websites. The text above is a direct extract from Q4 Web Systems Blog, an excellent resource for IR best practices.

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There are a few grey haired individuals in the Imara Group that have been trudging around African markets for many many years. So many years in fact that they have been responsible for the establishment of many of them. It’s no wonder then that Imara excels on a number of fronts not least of which is their asset management.

Imara’s asset management side, headed by John Legat, excelled recently at the inaugural asset managers awards. To celebrate their success, which is long overdue I replicate their press release below:-

Imara, the pan-Africa financial services group, has taken two of the top investment accolades in the first annual Africa Fund Manager Performance Awards.

Its Imara African Opportunities Fund won recognition as the year’s best Africa equity fund with a fund size of more than USD50 million while the Imara African Resources Fund claimed honours as the top Africa Equity Fund with a fund value of less than USD50 million. The Imara Zimbabwe Fund was also nominated for the same award.

The awards were presented at a gala dinner on October 11 in Cape Town.

Imara Group CEO Mark Tunmer commented: “It is an honour to feature so prominently in this inaugural awards programme for Africa fund managers.

“We’re delighted a well-established favourite like our African Opportunities Fund, with positions across numerous sub-Saharan jurisdictions, and a more focused specialist Resources Fund, a relative newcomer to our range, have done so well. We were also delighted that our popular Zimbabwe Fund made the short list for an award.

“Awards recognition has a wider significance for our continent and industry. By spotlighting superior investment returns out of Africa, awards such as this contribute to the global re-rating of sub-Saharan Africa as an investment destination.

“Strong performance by managers and markets will accelerate capital market development and help drive sustained progress by our continent.”

Harare-based John Legat, head of Imara’s asset management division, is manager of the Imara African Opportunities Fund while Bruce Williamson manages the Imara Africa Resources Fund.

John Legat noted: “We view awards recognition such as this as an endorsement of the Imara approach to equity investment in sub-Saharan markets. We have extensive on-the-ground representation across Africa and conduct in-depth research and face-to-face interviews to ensure portfolio construction is backed by thorough understanding of challenges and opportunities in all jurisdictions.”

  • Imara is an independent, Botswana-listed investment banking group that prides itself on objective decision making in the service of its clients. The company is mid-sized and has offices in Angola, Botswana, South Africa and the UK and associate offices in Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Imara has also partnered with Chapel Hill Denham in Nigeria, NIC Capital in Kenya, Namibia Equity Brokers and Mac Capital in Dubai.The Group is an active participant in Africa’s financial markets and maintains an extensive research coverage of regional equities. Funds under management exceed US$450m and assets under administration exceed US$1.77 billion.Imara provides a range of specialised financial products and services that can be broadly categorised as:
    • Asset management (institutional and private client)
    • Corporate finance and advisory services
    • Securities
    • Trust and administration services

    Imara Group subsidiaries are regulated by: NBFIRA in Botswana, the FSA (UK), the FSB, JSE, SAFEX (South Africa), SEC, ZSE and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the FSC (Mauritius) and the Reserve Bank of Malawi.

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF: IMARA
BY: CLEAR DISTINCTION COMMUNICATIONS
CONSULTANCY CONTACT: Carol Dundas

Tel: 011 444-0650
Mobile: 083 447 6648

Email: carol@cleardistinction.co.za

IMARA CONTACT:
Mark Tunmer
Tel: 083 788 9037

Africa Equity Fund of the Year over $50m – Imara African Opportunities Fund Limited – “The Imara fund’s strong 12 month return of 25.87% with average volatility versus its peers made it the clear winner in this category, with the next best fund returning 12.23%”

Africa Equity Fund of the Year under $50m – Imara African Resources Fund – “Imara’s African Resources Fund achieved a 41.94% return to make it the stand-out pan-African strategy in this category”

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Rwanda’s ambitions to become a “cyber-island” in the middle of East Africa are well known. I downloaded the Bank of Kigali’s prospectus and quickly searched for the following words:-

“Internet” “Website” “Investor relations”

“Internet” comes up in reference to their internet banking services. “Website” and “investor relations” do not appear at all. I visited the corporate website and was pleased to discover an “investor relations” section which consists of some downloads. No email alerts.

There’s something special about an IPO. And that’s the ability to identify all the investors interested in the company at IPO (investor interest is at its highest) and to strike a secure two way relationship with them. Forever, thereafter. Each new investor that comes onto the shareholder register thereafter is known – through the company secretaries or share registrars.

So on the one hand you have listed companies paying thousands of dollars in generic advertising (billboards etc) to try to identify prospective customers and on the other hand, you have thousands of pre-qualified customers (they have invested in your company – they must be educated, have savings and are middle class) being ignored. The funny thing is you have their contacts details, in full. The only effort that is put into engaging these shareholders as prospective customers is through a few pictures in the annual report every year.

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The US’s regulatory regime for listed companies is very transparent and easy to understand and I regularly point to it in highlighting the extent to which our African capital market regulators have under achieved. Edgar has not been to Africa. Edgar would like Africa as he would be kept busy by investors assessing investment opportunities and risk in Africa.

Many of my articles attributed to the SEC refer to the Form 8 – K whose content for every listed company is available on Edgar. I have provided a brief overview of that the Form 8 K is used for below thanks to the SEC’s recent news digest, which by the way, are published from 1956 onwards. Who said that historical information was irrelevant?

Form 8-K is used by companies to file current reports on the following events:

  • 1.01 – Entry into a Material Definitive Agreement.
  • 1.02 – Termination of a Material Definitive Agreement.
  • 1.03 – Bankruptcy or Receivership.
  • 2.01 – Completion of Acquisition or Disposition of Assets.
  • 2.02 – Results of Operations and Financial Condition.
  • 2.03 – Creation of a Direct Financial Obligation or an Obligation under an Off-Balance Sheet Arrangement of a Registrant.
  • 2.04 – Triggering Events That Accelerate or Increase a Direct Financial Obligation or an Obligation under an Off-Balance Sheet Arrangement.
  • 2.05 – Cost Associated with Exit or Disposal Activities.
  • 2.06 – Material Impairments.
  • 3.01 – Notice of Delisting or Failure to Satisfy a Continued Listing Rule or Standard; Transfer of Listing.
  • 3.02 – Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities.
  • 3.03 – Material Modifications to Rights of Security Holders.
  • 4.01 – Changes in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant.
  • 4.02 – Non-Reliance on Previously Issued Financial Statements or a Related Audit Report or Completed Interim Review.
  • 5.01 – Changes in Control of Registrant.
  • 5.02 – Departure of Directors or Certain Officers; Election of Directors; Appointment of Certain Officers; Compensatory Arrangements of Certain Officer.
  • 5.03 – Amendments to Articles of Incorporation or Bylaws; Change in Fiscal Year.
  • 5.04 – Temporary Suspension of Trading Under Registrant’s Employee Benefit Plans.
  • 5.05 – Amendments to the Registrant’s Code of Ethics, or Waiver of a Provision of the Code of Ethics.
  • 5.06 – Change in Shell Company Status.
  • 6.01 – ABS Informational and Computational Material.
  • 6.02 – Change of Servicer or Trustee.
  • 6.03 – Change in Credit Enhancement or Other External Support.
  • 6.04 – Failure to Make a Required Distribution.
  • 6.05 – Securities Act Updating Disclosure.
  • 7.01 – Regulation FD Disclosure.
  • 8.01 – Other Events.
  • 9.01 – Financial Statements and Exhibits.

8-K reports may be viewed in person in the Commission’s Public Reference Branch at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. To obtain paper copies, please refer to information on the Commission’s Website at http://www.sec.gov/answers/publicdocs.htm. In most cases, you can view and download this information by using the search function located at http://www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/companysearch.html.

The thing that stands out about this is the ready accessibility of any or all regulatory filings to the investment public through the regulator in the USA – a key investor protection tool. An informed investor is an educated investor as the Americans say.

Not in Africa.

Just try looking for Egyptian annual reports online. Isn’t it amazing that the Egyptians could record and celebrate their existence for thousands and thousands of years accurately and for free, but in the modern day environment you can’t locate up to date Egyptian annual reports online for free.

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They are setting a trend. AICO Africa;, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed seed, cotton and FMCG group podcast its analyst presentation for the half year results to 30 September 2011. The is the second time AICO has podcast its full investor presentation and the company is setting the lead in Zimbabwe in consistently applying investor outreach initiatives.

The company is under-capitalised and has significant operational challenges, but their investment story is positive in the short-term, and exciting in the long-term given the profile of agriculture and food globally. Seed Co, also listed, is the Group largest asset and is also applying progressive investor outreach initiatives through their website and communication practices.

Some key stats from AICO’s presentation:-

  1. Revenues up by 117%
  2. PAT growth in Cotton up by 183% – recorded profit of US$4.6 m
  3. Growth in Group sales volumes up by 19%

So does the investment story of a company determine whether the management adopts progressive online communications practices? Clearly not. Management, or the Board does. This quote from Standard Boardroom Practice, prepared by the Institute of Directors, London, revised 1971 is still appropriate (or perhaps more appropriate) in modern times:

“Although the process of encouraging shareholders to take an interest in the affairs of the company may be a rather slow one, directors should not be discouraged. It is their duty to make the maximum use of the methods open to them of keeping the shareholders informed.”

The “methods open to them”: a website, Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, Linkedin, SMS, emails, podcasts, conference calls, webcasts…….none of these applied in 1971, but they do now and they provide companies the opportunity to build brand and corporate reputation by forming and retaining relationships with stakeholders individually. At low cost. How? Technology.

With the slackening off of global markets and the withdrawal of foreign demand for securities in emerging African markets companies feel that they need to go “the extra mile” to seek and retain investors’ attention. There are two aspects of this “extra mile” that are disturbing. The first is that the “extra mile” should be the “norm” in these markets, as they are elsewhere and secondly, the number of companies not adopting the basic tenets of online disclosure (timely and comprehensive info) is high. My favourite quote above has been lost in time. Lost to the regulators and lost to directors because they are stuck in their past ways. But times have changed.

My experience with our clients is that the core decision makers know that “it is the right thing to do” but do not necessarily understand how or why – which is fair game. I make the mistake trying to promote these practices by  jumping up and down and waving my hands because I’m so excited. But life is not like that. Learning happens slowly. Confidence building takes time, as does seeing the benefits of how online communications benefits companies in areas other than investor relations.

The fact is that in the absence of prescriptive regulation, proactive adoption of good corporate governance it is only the commercial imperative that remains as a key motivator to promote progressive online investors. This message is not lost on AICO and Seed Co and they are building now for the future. Others are following too.

Ironically, when the world is embracing technology because of the opportunity to link directly with people at zero or almost zero cost, Africa is going in the opposite direction. Regulator’s dropping of the requirement to send annual reports (and proxy voting material) to shareholders (Kenya is one example of where this has been entrenched in law) is evidence of this. As is the absence of technology being adopted by Africa’s regulators.

Dominic Jones , a world leader in online investor relations, has this opinion about the trends in African markets regarding de-linking the direct communications channel with shareholders:

“Scrapping requirements for companies to mail printed disclosure documents to investors is a global trend, but it has exacerbated shareholder apathy in every jurisdiction where it has been implemented. This is largely because regulators have failed to replace printed disclosures with suitable standards of online disclosures. Apathy and an uniformed investing public is, to my mind, the single worst thing that can happen in any market. It ultimately will lead to market abuses.”

Brokers are realising the opportunity to link with investors too and the recent launch of the Lynton-Edwards website ( a Zimbabwe Stock Exchange registered stockbroking firm) shows how investment data can be used to reach out, identify investors and create a secure two way communications channel with them.

Sounds so airy-fairy doesn’t it? Consultant’s or marketing speak. But its not.

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On its Facebook account the Nairobi Stock Exchange suggests that high coffee prices could be good for shares listed on the exchange in the coffee industry. In a comment underneath, an investor bemoans the fact that even though the coffee prices are high the shares of Sasini closed lower. This exposes the complexities of capital markets to investors and underlines the need for shareholder education initiatives in Kenya and more importantly the need for the regulator to refrain from offering investment advice.

I do not believe that regulators have any place in making such statements to the market and if accidental comments are made (which I hope this is) then the opportunity should be taken to fully brief the investor on why share prices might fall following the announcement of seemingly good news. This can be a slippery slope because the more you explain the more you need to explain and a regulator has no place doing this when an actual industry or listed company is mentioned.

My key message is that if social media is used in African markets then it should be done in a fully informed manner. Fully informed of the rights and obligations and legal requirements applicable to regulators.

This was not a serious transgression but it does underlie the need for more awareness on the NSE’s side. Consider such utterances in an IPO situation and consider the heavy speculation and extraordinary (unsustainable) price rises in previous Kenyan IPOs and the matter could become a lot more serious (when the share price comes crashing down after all the stagging).

I read a few more posts and there is an utterance about the euro crisis from the NSE. Whilst the NSE has given a disclaimer on the content of its Facebook account, and the use of Facebook is a positive move to bring investing in the mainstream, there should be supporting education initiatives for the regulators and investors to ensure that Facebook’s use is fully understood. Any comment like that relating to the share price of Sasini should be seized upon to explain in detail why share prices can go down on the release of good news. The absence of any explanation just leaves the website user frustrated and disillusioned.

In another post the NSE says this

‎”Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful………..’ Invest in stocks when are others are running away from the market and sell when others are running back to the market.”

It should have been attributed to Warren Buffet but was not, as was pointed out by a NSE Facebook user. Its great to see the market correct the regulator or at least raise issues with the regulator whenever a wayward post is published by the NSE – social media is such a leveller and that’s why it needs to be taken seriously by regulators.

I have previously blogged about Kenya’s absence of internationally acceptable shareholder communications practices, law and stock exchange practices. See my previous blogs here.

 

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The Nairobi Stock Exchange sells a broad array of data and generates close to US$100,000 a year from this activity which accounts for approximately 2.5% of total revenues. There are 7 authorised data vendors whose deposits held at the NSE total about US$8,500. These data vendors re-package the NSE data into products and services that theoretically “add-value” to the users thereof. Data vendors in most cases re-charge for this data or package it in a way that they are able to generate revenues therefrom eg portal sites, that generate advertising revenues by virtue of their website traffic.

 

For the larger media firms such as Thompson Reuters and Bloomberg the value add to investors is significant as the data is bundled into global databases and other products.

There is a bigger question here for the NSE and that’s whether the foregone benefits of wider information dissemination exceed US$100,000 of revenue every year? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”? At the moment it would seem that its easier to justify the 100-grand-in-the-hand. Is the NSE rent seeking from data that it should not be?

The products below show what you can buy – you can buy this information from the NSE using your cell phone! Which IS progressive, but is it really necessary? As a shareholder or an active investor, is it acceptable for me to pay for basic investment data? How many people does NSE have to sell to, to add to the “bottom line” and is the “bottom line” becoming more and more important for the NSE now that it is de-mutualising? Are the long term interests of Kenya’s capital markets being prejudiced by virtue of the fact that the  NSE is a monopoly on investment data and is selling it?

An alternative view is that this investment data should only be consumed by those that understand it and can afford it and through registered investment professionals i.e brokers. Yes, there are the ignoramus investors out there being misguided all the time as a result of their ignorance, but that’s the nature of the industry (look at World markets and they are supposed to be filled with educated people). From a regulators perspective, one could argue that  no-one really understands the markets so who cares? My retort to this response is consider the power of 4 million ignoramuses (those with access to internet in Kenya and with shares but no knowledge) being misguided by their ignorance and able to express this ignorance on a global platform 24/7. Phew!! An example? IPOs whose share prices rocket to stratospheric levels and then collapse: no shortage of evidence of this in Kenya.

Is this sort of ignoramus behaviour acceptable to the regulators whose core obligation is to protect investors?  “An informed investor is a protected investor” I believe.

Whether African regulators like it or not, the growth of social media is changing the landscape for everyone. Social media is full of ignoramuses. In the absence of wide and engaging education efforts by the regulators (now) there is significant scope for the ignoramus market to completely dominate (over-positively or over-negatively) the general public’s perception. In that situation the regulator can’t do anything its too late. So they have to be pre-emptive. One could argue that the listed companies should bear some responsibility for educating investors and enabling them to make informed investment decisions – but that’s a different conversation.

My view is this:-

- the NSE should review the products below and make free the ones that are not well subscribed. Charge the top data vendors for the value add data / systems / feeds. Don’t charge for anything else (the basic products) but make it freely available to anyone who wants to sign up.

- engage the market as widely as possible with an online shareholder education course (linked to social media) – charge US$20 for it (enable payment by M-Pesa) and if you get 3,000 people signing up then that’s US$60,000 of the US$100,000 that you might have forgone above. Investors become more “informed” and “protected”. These education initiatives deal specifically with irrational exuberance in IPO situations and ignoramuses are learning things rather than buying data.

There’s a degree of intuition needed here in deciding the way forward for the NSE and I don’t have the stats to be able to say much more. The fact is that they have been selling data now for some time and know what the market does and doesn’t want. They need to reflect on this and amend their strategy to achieve both objectives.

Why is this relevant?

Well with the World melting at the moment, with Africa being seen as the last investment frontier, and with foreign investment at risk, there should not be any barriers to getting hold of timely information. The bigger picture is that the way the web is developing, all of this information is going to be available for free anyway in the future to almost everyone, by phone,iPad, PC, whatever and its only the likes of Thompson Reuters and Bloombergs that can justify the need to pay to re-package packaged real time data on account of their professional investor bases.

All of this debate is all so terribly over-intellectual isn’t it?

BUT, ask yourself whether 10 years ago you would have predicted that so much information and functionality could be available on the web FOR FREE. So really at the end of the day the future for African capital markets is whether the regulators that run them have a vision, a long term vision that embraces how the web is changing the world. A vision that does not involve US$100,000 now, vs benefits that are intangible and in the future and for the greater good. Like investor education. Mmmmm….

Daily FIX Log File (flf)Contains all the day’s trading activity (both equity and debt) in electronic form. Kshs.50000(monthly subscription)+/- US$6,480 p.a.
End of Day Listed Equity Securities Data (eded)Listed equity data, which is published no sooner than sixty (60) minutes after the close of trade on each trading day.Available in excel format Kshs.7200(monthly subscription)+/- US$936 p.a.
Historical daily Price lists for bond data (hdpl-bond-market)Historical daily market reports for equity and debt data. Available in excel format.Data Available From 24th Feb 2011 to 13th Oct 2011 Kshs.30(per day’s price list)+/-US$71 p.a. Buy
End of Day Listed Debt Securities Data (eddd)Listed debt data, which is published no sooner than sixty (60) minutes after the close of trade on each trading day. Available in excel format Kshs.7200(monthly subscription)+/- US$940 p.a.
Historical daily Price lists for equity data (hdpl-equity-market)Historical daily market reports for equity and debt data. Available in excel format.Data Available From 4th Jan 2010 to 13th Oct 2011 Kshs.30(per day’s price list)+/- US$71 p.a. Buy
Historical weekly Price lists for equity data – weekly market statistics (hwpl-equity-market)Historical weekly market reports for equity and debt data. Available in excel formatData Available From 4th Jan 2010 to 16th Sep 2011 Kshs.100(per weekly report)+/- US$56 p.a. Buy
Historical weekly Price lists for debt data – weekly bond statistics (hwpl-bond-market)Historical weekly market reports for equity and debt data. Available in excel formatData Available From 4th Jan 2010 to 2nd Sep 2011 Kshs.100(Per weekly report)+/- US$56 p.a. Buy
Historical monthly trading equity volumes (hmev)Historical trading volumes per month in excel formatData Available From 2010 to 2010 Kshs.1000(cost per annum)+/- US$11 p.a. Buy
Historical monthly trading equity deals (hmed)Historical equity traded deals per month in excel formatCurrently No Files Kshs.1000(cost per annum)+/- US$11 p.a. Buy
Historical monthly trading equity turnovers (hmet)Historical equity traded turnover per month in excel formatCurrently No Files Kshs.1000(cost per annum)+/- US$11 p.a. Buy
Historical monthly debt traded deals (hmdd)Historical debt traded deals per month in excel formatCurrently No Files Kshs.1000(cost per annum)+/- US$11 p.a. Buy
Historical monthly debt traded volume/turnovers (hmdv)Historical debt traded volume/turnover per month in excel formatCurrently No Files Kshs.1000(cost per annum)+/- US$11 p.a. Buy
Historical monthly foreign investors trading data (hfid)Historical monthly trading summary of foreign investors. Information consists: purchases, sales, total turnover, percentage to total equity market turnoverAvailable in excel format.Data Available From 2009 to 2010 Kshs.3000(cost per annum)+/- US$33 p.a. Buy
Historical Annual equity turnovers (historical-annual-equity-turnovers)Historical equity traded turnover per year in excel formatData Available From 1992 to 2011 Kshs.1000(cost per annum)+/- US$11 p.a. Buy

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Imara has had a securities office in Angola for a number of years. The Group is bullish about the prospects for the country whose yet-to-emerge-stock-exchange could be the third or fourth largest in Africa based on the size and value of the companies that could come to market. There is nothing more I would like than to be a regulator in the Angolan Stock Exchange to be able to shape and influence the future of online investor relations in that country. A clean sheet. No bad habits, no legacy issues, just the opportunity to catapult Angolan companies onto the global investment stage with comprehensive, timely information that actually promotes investment, not promises to promote investment. I rub my hands in anticipation……

I replicate the Imara press release below. Their London event sounds ground-breaking and exciting.

Angola’s investment case gets big response – Imara

Angola is fast emerging as the next big sub-Saharan opportunity, judging by the response to the oil-rich nation’s upcoming investment indaba in London. The event on November 8 is believed to be the first forum to be convened in a major financial centre to foster closer contacts between the international institutional investment community and Angolan corporates and public bodies.

It has attracted a Who’s Who of attendees from the fund management and financial service sectors, says Anthony Lopes Pinto, head of Angolan operations at Imara, the pan-African financial services group.

Imara and London-based asset management Group Fleming Family & Partners are co-hosts of the event. Two years ago, the long-time associates launched a similar London investment day to showcase opportunities in Zimbabwe. The initiative helped free up investment flows and contributed to an international reappraisal of Zimbabwe’s post-dollarisation prospects.

“Response to our Angola conference has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Lopes Pinto. “We therefore believe we are well placed to repeat the success of the watershed Zimbabwe event.

“Angola has one of the fastest growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Some northern hemisphere economies may be struggling to cope with the continuing international financial crisis, but Angola is back in the black, foreign currency reserves are at an all-time high and government efforts are gaining traction to diversify the economy and reduce Angola’s dependence on oil.”

Delegates are expected from North and South America, Europe and the UK. Representatives of financial service companies significantly outnumber those from the energy and resource sectors. Senior Angolan officials will present a strategic overview of national prospects, with a focus on opportunities for public-private sector partnerships. In addition, speakers from major corporates currently active in the Angolan market will address the conference on operational conditions and progress toward a business-friendly policy environment.

The Angolan government has publicly stated that next year it will develop its capital markets in Luanda, deepening the financial sector and creating new sources of funding for Angolan enterprises.

“The diverse mix of attendees confirms that international investors have picked up official signals that opportunities are not restricted to the oil industry. With the recovery of the oil price, wide-ranging investment possibilities are fast emerging; which is why the response has been so positive from so many quarters.”

Imara has been represented in Luanda for more than two years by Imara Securities Angola SCVM Limitada, a joint-venture with an Angolan conglomerate. The Angolan JV launched corporate finance activities at the beginning of the year. Two deals are currently in the pipeline, a property project and a financial services transaction.


  • Imara is an independent, Botswana-listed investment banking group that prides itself on objective decision making in the service of its clients. The company is mid-sized and has offices in Angola, Botswana, South Africa and the UK and associate offices in Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Imara has also partnered with Chapel Hill Denham in Nigeria, NIC Capital in Kenya, Namibia Equity Brokers and Mac Capital in Dubai.

The Group is an active participant in Africa’s financial markets and maintains an extensive research coverage of regional equities. Funds under management exceed US$450m and assets under administration exceed US$1.77 billion.

Imara provides a range of specialised financial products and services that can be broadly categorised as:

  • Asset management (institutional and private client)
  • Corporate finance and advisory services
  • Securities
  • Trust and administration services

Imara Group subsidiaries are regulated by: NBFIRA in Botswana, the FSA (UK), the FSB, JSE, SAFEX (South Africa), SEC, ZSE and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the FSC (Mauritius) and the Reserve Bank of Malawi.

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I welcome the introduction of the Kenya Index Series from the FTSE from a governance and investor relations perspective. Firstly, the indices will provide greater outreach for Kenyan companies on the global investment stage and enable fund managers and investors to benchmark performance on a like for like basis with international peers. Secondly, the existence of the indices will I expect provide tangible empirical evidence of the volatility associated with equity returns from companies in Kenya.

Why is this relevant to me? Kenyan corporate governance lags its international peers and the dropping of the core tenet of investor protection, that of ensuring the delivery of hardcopy annual report and proxy voting material, will, over time, reduce listed companies’ accountability to the broader investment community.

Dominic Jones , a world leader in online investor relations, has this opinion about the trends in African markets regarding de-linking the direct communications channel with shareholders:

“Scrapping requirements for companies to mail printed disclosure documents to investors is a global trend, but it has exacerbated shareholder apathy in every jurisdiction where it has been implemented. This is largely because regulators have failed to replace printed disclosures with suitable standards of online disclosures. Apathy and an uniformed investing public is, to my mind, the single worst thing that can happen in any market. It ultimately will lead to market abuses.”

The Kenyan Index Series will hopefully accentuate the need for globally acceptable governance standards in Kenya (albeit slowly and indirectly) and spur regulators and listed companies to treat all shareholders equally and transparently. The advent of social media and general internet access means that now more than ever, investing can be (or will be whether listed companies like it or not) brought into the mainstream. What is required is an educated and informed investment community that is well protected by legislation and good corporate governance practices.

The Kenya Index Series is good for Kenyan capital markets on a number of fronts.

Here is the speech of the CEO of the NSE

REMARKS BY THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE NAIROBI SECURITIES EXCHANGE
MR. PETER MWANGI
DURING THE LAUNCH OF FTSE NSE KENYA INDEX SERIES
HELD ON 8th NOVEMBER 2011
AT THE NSE TRADING FLOOR


Mr. Donald Keith, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, FTSE Group
Mr. Jonathan Cooper, Managing Director, Middle East & Africa, FTSE Group
Mrs Stella Kilonzo, Chief Executive,CMA
Mr. Carilus Ademba, Chief Executive Officer, the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA)
Mrs. Rose Mambo, Chief Executive,CDSC
Board Members of theNairobiSecurities Exchange
Member Firms of theNairobiSecurities Exchange
Members of the Media
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Management of the Nairobi Securities Exchange, I warmly welcome you all to the official launch of our partnership with FTSE International – the preeminent provider of global indices and index products. Ladies and Gentlemen, we commence our partnership with the launch of the FTSE NSE Kenya Index Series. The index series consists of:

  • The FTSE NSE Kenya 25 Index

This tradable index reflects the performance of the 25 most liquid stocks trading on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

  • The FTSE NSE Kenya 15 Index

This tradable index reflects the performance of the largest 15 stocks, ranked by full market capitalisation trading on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

These equity indices have been developed in partnership with FTSE International and in consultation with local asset owners and fund managers. The FTSE NSE Kenya Index Series is built to FTSE’s renowned standards of index design, which emphasize transparency, tradability and strong governance, with index data available across a range of global vendor platforms. They reflect the growing interest in new domestic investment and diversification opportunities inKenya. The new indices will run concurrently with the NSE 20 Share and NSE All Share Indices. They will act as a gauge by which our investors can measure the performance of their portfolios. They also act as a foundation for the development of index related products such as Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). The launch of these new indices is a milestone for the NSE.

It is the first such initiative of its kind in East andCentral Africa, and the third inAfricaafter JSE Ltd. (South Africa) and Casablanca Stock Exchange (Morocco).

In line with our vision “To be a leading securities exchange in Africa, with a global reach.”, the NSE endeavors to build on its existing suite of products and services in order to meet the evolving needs of our domestic and international investors. Our partnership with FTSE International, illustrates our commitment to meeting this need. I am convinced that the indices shall attract additional capital flows into the domestic market and enhance liquidity and market capitalization. It is a crucial part of the efforts of the Nairobi Securities Exchange to evolve into a full service securities exchange which supports trading, clearing and settlement of equities, debt, derivatives and other associated instruments. In this regard, we intend to expand the family of FTSE NSE Kenya Index Series by offering a treasury bond index, very shortly. With these few remarks, allow me to welcome Mr. Donald Keith, Deputy CEO, FTSE International, to address us.

PETER MWANGI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE

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