Ameerah Satar, Client Service Manager (Private Clients) with Maitland in Mauritius, gives an overview of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius which is becoming an increasingly attractive option for foreign investors.
Stemming from a finance-focused economic strategy, the Mauritius International Financial Centre (IFC) has successfully gained a global reputation as the preferred gateway for investment into Africa. Central to this success has been the progressive introduction of new legislation and institutions to provide modern and innovative financial products and services, included amongst these being the Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM).
The SEM commenced in the year 1989 with a very modest market capitalisation of USD 92 million (with only five listings). Evolving from a manual trading operation, the SEM has grown substantially over the years and now boasts 51 companies listed on the Official Market with a market capitalisation of USD 11.2 billion. Additionally, the Development and Enterprise Market (DEM) was launched in 2006 to cater for mid-cap companies. Presently, 43 companies are listed on the DEM with a market capitalisation of USD 1.7 billion. The growing significance of the SEM was recently re-confirmed at the Ai Institutional Investment Summit and Capital Markets Index Series Awards 2017, organised by Africa investor (Ai), where the SEM was awarded “the Most Innovative African Stock Exchange of the Year award” for the fourth time in seven years.
The advantages of the SEM to foreign investors
The SEM is an attractive option for foreign investors, especially those willing to invest into Africa.
- The SEM is the only exchange in Africa, and amongst the few exchanges worldwide that can list, trade and settle equity and debt products in multiple international currencies, including USD, GBP, Euro, ZAR and MUR.
- Foreign investors investing on the SEM can benefit from no withholdings tax on dividends, no capital gains tax, “free” repatriation of profits, capital and interest and the benefits of Mauritius’s attractive Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) network.
- Mauritius’ numerous Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPA), a highly beneficial advantage of Mauritius as a gateway for Africa, make the SEM an ideal place to raise capital for investment in Africa.
- The SEM’s trading infrastructure is operated in accordance with international standards.
- The SEM amended its Listing Rules to position itself as a “one-stop-shop” to access Africa and Asia’s emerging markets. These amendments include ease of secondary listing on the SEM where the primary listing is on a SEM-recognised securities exchange (such as the ASX, JSE, LSE, Euronext, NYSE and TSX). This is particularly attractive for the listing of global and specialised funds.
In advancing its international and regional position, the SEM is a member of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE), the South Asian Federation of Exchanges (SAFE), the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) and the committee of the SADC Stock Exchanges. As of 2010, the SEM has been recognised as an Approved Stock Exchange by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) due to its membership status under the WFE; The CIMA recognition undoubtedly raises the profile of the SEM as a well-structured and properly regulated Exchange and enhances SEM’s position as an attractive listing venue. In 2011, the SEM was designated by the UK HMRC as a “Recognised Stock Exchange”. This designation means that securities traded and listed on the Official Market of the SEM meet the HMRC interpretation of “listed” as set out in the UK Income Tax Act 2007. As such, UK pension schemes are permitted to hold securities listed on SEM, giving companies and funds access to a larger market of sophisticated, well-capitalised investors. UK investors may also hold securities in tax advantaged Individual Savings Accounts (ISA’s) and Personal Equity Plans (PEP’s). Notably, inheritance tax advantages may accrue to UK holders of SEM listed securities.
As part of its internationalisation process, the SEM has reached several breakthroughs, notably:
- In 2015, the SEM became the first Exchange in Africa to list a CoreShares S&P 500 ETF and a CoreShares S&P Global Property ETF. These two international products allowed SEM’s local retail and institutional investors access to 500 of the largest international companies and 40 of the well-established international companies involved in the global real-estate sector.
- In 2016, the SEM became the first African Exchange to list a Masala Bond (a rupee-denominated bond issued outside of India by an Indian company).
- In 2017, the SEM listed the first Depositary Receipts (DRs). These DRs constitute a new product addition to SEM’s multi-asset class product offering, confirming the strong positioning of the SEM as an attractive capital-raising, listing and trading platform for well-established African issuers and niche international products. The launching of the SEM Bond Index (SEM-BI) in November 2017 enhances the attractiveness of the SEM as a value creation platform for debt instruments, and this new index is expected to enhance the visibility of the debt market in Mauritius.
The SEM’s internationalisation strategy, which includes scaling up the range of products listed and traded, has contributed in positioning the SEM as an attractive multicurrency capital-raising and listing platform for Africa-focused investors.
In line with the positioning of Mauritius as an Africa focused jurisdiction of both repute and substance, Maitland has a full-service office in Port Louis, Mauritius, to enable our clients to benefit from the advantage of investing via Mauritius.
Maitland (Mauritius) Limited and Theseus (Mauritius) Limited are licensed by the Financial Services Commission, Mauritius.