Ghana Stock Exchange wants govt to float shares in Vodafone, Airtel

The Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) has appealed to the government to float its minority holding in Vodafone and Airtel on the local exchange as a means of whipping up investor interest in the local bourse while stimulating growth in the country’s capital market. The Chairman of the Governing Council, Dr Sam Mensah, made the appeal at the exchange’s annual general meeting in Accra today (09/27).

The Government of Ghana has a 30 per cent interest in Vodafone Ghana and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), a state agency, owns 25 per cent of Airtel Ghana.

To Dr Mensah, these stakes should be separately floated in the interest of the bourse and the market at large.

“These are stocks that would make the market interesting to investors and so we think that if government list its minority interest in them, it will help increase activities on the bourse,” the chairman said.

He stressed that government needed to take “far reaching listing and divestiture decisions” to help support the growth of the GSE and the market at large.

Dr Mensah thus encouraged the government to list wholly owned financial institutions such as the Ghana Reinsurance Company Limited (Ghana Re), National Investment (NIB) and the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB) rather than divesting its interest to private investors as has been the case in previous instances.

His comments are the latest from stakeholders in the capital market on the need for government to tactically support the growth of the market by floating the shares of state-owned enterprises on the bourse.

The Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), earlier this year, called on government to make it compulsory for all telecommunication companies in the country to list a specific amount of their stake on the GSE after five years of operations.

While urging private institutions to use the stock exchange to raise funds for their operations, the Chairman of the GSE Governing Council said “government should also make the issue of bonds the preferred borrowing option for utilities such as the Volta River Authority, Electricity Company of Ghana and the Ghana Grid Company.”

On the performance of the bourse in 2011, Dr Mensah said “2011 was a challenging one for the exchange financially.”

He attributed the difficulty to the high interest rates in the country and debt crisis in the United States of America and Europe, adding that such developments “did not help but suppressed market indicators” in that year.

The exchange, he said, traded 419.79 million shares valued at GH¢446.56 in 2011 compared to a total of 330.41 shares valued at GH¢151.13 recorded in 2010.

Source: Daily Graphic

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