NSE makes wake-up call to share investors

By Festus Okoromadu

 The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mr. Oscar Onyema has advised shareholders of quoted companies to take interest in monitoring happenings in companies where they have invested their money. The advice came on Thursday while answering questions during a World Press Conference held by the Exchange to review market’s performance in 2012 and as well present projections for 2013.

When confronted with the fact that ordinary shareholders bear the brunt when companies listed in the stock market fail,   Onyema said, “As the owners of the company they should desire to know from the management what went wrong when their company is placed on technical suspension, full suspension or getting delisted”.

He pointed out that, “If we follow corporate governance and everybody that has shares take interest in how their companies are being run, it will benefit all of us’. Going after the management individually, we will look at how possible that can be”.

When asked what the Exchange under his management has done to encourage new listing as a way of growing the market, the CEO said, some of the factors necessary for new listing are external. He pointed out that his team has taken various steps to engage government on the need for creating the right environment that will encourage investors to patronize the market.

“We have being advocating for improvement and for certain additional government benefits for listing on the Exchange’. I agree that there have been a lot of lapses in that area. We have sent a position paper to the government talking about things like quoted companies should be given the privilege of being the first to be considered in getting government related contracts; get lower tax rate. We’ve done our presentation and we will continue to pursue them”.

Speaking further, the NSE boss said,” We also need the support of government to make sure that the Telecoms companies come in. You have the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which provides for the unbundling of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) “. A quick passage of the Bill according to him will not only facilitate the oil majors operating in the country to get listed on the NSE but will also help in creating the right environment needed to advance the market.

While appealing to the National Assembly for a quick passage of the PIB Bill even if there would be need to make changes, Mr. Onyema noted that the delay in passing that bill is slowing down activity in that sector. According to him, everybody is waiting to see the outcome. He assured the general public that his team is still working hard to actualize the target of growing the market capitalization of the Exchange to US$1trillion by 2016. Expatiating on how he hoped to achieve the lofty goal, he said, “We did not pick US$1trillion from the air, the market capitalization was 17 per cent of GDP which is one of the lowest in Africa, so what we are saying is if we create the right environment we can meet the target”.

“We projected the growth rate of Nigeria, as well as how we can increase the market capitalization as a percentage of GDP over time, if everything lines up, the utility companies, telecoms, Oil & Gas and Agriculture, the target is realisable”, he said.