Investors in limbo as SEC is left without a board

Business

May 30, 2017

Source: Bernard Yaw ASHIADEY/thebftonline.com/Ghana

The absence of a board of directors at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is severely hampering the equity and debt listing of companies on the stock market, with about GH¢1biliion worth of potential deals hanging.

The laws regulating the securities industry stipulates that all new listings–including the listing of new tranches of existing corporate bonds, and equities– and the registration of investment advisory firms, asset management firms, and the creation of mutual funds, have to be approved by the board of the SEC.

But since the change of government and the dissolving of all boards, including the board of SEC, several investment and asset management firms that seek to establish mutual funds have been left in limbo.

One major transaction that is believed to have been stalled by the absence of a SEC board is the Over the Counter (OTC) listing of 35percent of MTN shares as a result of the telco giant’s acquisition of the 4G network.

Investment advisors and brokers have told the B&FT that corporate institutions including Ghana Home Loans, Edendale Properties, and African Financial Business (AFB) that have already listed their bonds on the stock market but are looking to raise more capital are also hampered.

“When the board is not there nothing can be done. If I want to raise capital, I first look at the timing and if I believe the market is good and favourable I should be able to go. But if I go for approval and there is no board then I have a challenge. The board should be put in place,” a securities and investment expert told the B&FT.

The expert, with decades of experience in the industry, expressed disappointment that after almost five months in government a crucial institution like the SEC still has no board.

Another investment advisor also told the B&FT that several investors are feeling frustrated due to the unavailability of a board at the SEC.

“Because there is no board, it is holding up on a lot of transactions. Assuming you an investment bank or advisor and you have a transaction, as it goes through the whole process, the final authority lies with the board and God knows when that board will be put in place,” the advisor noted.

With the opening of the corporate bond market and the equities market for SMEs with the establishment of the Ghana Fixed Income Market (GFIM) and the Ghana Alternative Market (GAX), the economy has seen increased activity on the stock market with both market raising in excess of GH¢400million over the past three years.

Since the establishment of the GFIM, the total value of bonds traded on the market has almost doubled to reach GH¢9.8billion as at September 2016, from GH¢5billion a year before.

So far, GH¢374million has been raised in corporate bonds by six companies in finance, real estate, and commodities.

But without a board, analysts fear, the investment opportunities that have increased with a change of government could be stalled.

“I believe the unavailability of a board is holding up transactions. There are transactions, from my point of view, valued at over GH¢300million and depending on the others, the quantum could be larger than that.

A lot of investors and corporates are looking to issue bonds and if the board issue is not resolved quickly, they may be looking at other sources and that means that investment houses may be losing income and the SEC itself could be missing out on income because it collects fees,” he said.

The advisor expressed disappointment as to the fact that the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has not placed the establishment of a SEC board as top priority with his background as a former celebrated investment banker.

“Given that Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta is a former investment banker, we were thinking a board for the SEC will be a priority, but it is obvious other important things have taken up his time,” he noted.

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