CFO Otsile Matheba unpacks A2X’s exponential growth this year

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Otsile believes the market has come to understand that being listed on A2X adds value for companies.

It has been a productive year for A2X CFO Otsile Matheba, who notes that South Africa has begun to bounce back after the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. "From a business standpoint, we have made significant strides," Matheba says. "Our team has put in a lot of effort to develop the exchange, and the industry is now reaping the rewards of our efforts, including the cost savings we are providing to the South African market.

"We are pleased to report that 37 securities were listed on A2X this year, adding a combined market cap of R800 billion. We have also seen a growing interest from brokers in our platform. When we first started, there was some scepticism, but as more people experience the benefits of trading and listing on A2X, including increased competition in the market, that scepticism has dissipated."

On the back of a successful Visionary CFO Series in 2021 and 2022, A2X has once again partnered with CFO South Africa to bring you a series of interviews highlighting South Africa’s best and brightest CFOs, their insights and challenges. Find out how they help lead some of South Africa’s most successful companies in this bi-weekly interview series.

Read all about the Visionary CFOs here.

A2X has seen a massive increase in volume of shares being sold and bought, with a 40-fold increase in trade from the first year when it saw R657 million traded, to just over R26 billion in its fifth year of operation. “It’s a massive increase in terms of trade and we look forward to seeing that increase exponentially in the years ahead.”

Top companies like Woolworths, Life Healthcare, Truworths and Hyprop took up secondary listings in December 2022. Others that joined the bourse this year include Implats, AngloGold Ashanti, Nedbank, and Remgro. These companies, combined with the existing listings on A2X, give the exchange a market capitalisation of R5.7 trillion, making it the second largest exchange in Africa by total market capital.

Otsile was appointed as CFO in 2017 at A2X, which is an alternative stock market to the JSE. The company was founded in 2014 by Sean Melnick, Ashley Mendelowitz and Kevin Brady. Otsile says that there is a growing realisation in the market that listing on the alternative exchange will bring value to companies.

Building on progress
For the upcoming year, Otsile anticipates that A2X will maintain its strong performance by adding more issuers to its market and encouraging brokers to seek the best execution for their clients when they trade. The company's priority is to have more of the highly liquid Top 40 companies listed on A2X, and they have a robust pipeline in place to achieve more than 100 securities listed on the exchange in Q1 of next year. Additionally, A2X expects to become profitable by 2024.

It also has a couple of exciting initiatives, including new products, which will be a first in Africa. “We have been granted regulatory approval for three new trade types, and they are currently in the testing phase,” says Otsile. He adds that blockchain, although available in Europe and Australia, is not on the radar.

When assessing the impact of the continued delistings from the JSE, Otsile says that by focusing on the companies currently listed on the JSE, they can still create significant value. However, their ultimate goal is to expand the market and not just operate in a shrinking pool. They have also noticed an increase in liquidity in South Africa, which was previously not present, due to the perception of the country as a high-cost trading destination. They are working to change that perception.

Twenty-five companies left South Africa’s first bourse last year, which includes several businesses in the engineering field as well as property. One in 10 may leave in 2023, such as Massmart – owner of Game – which is being fully bought out by US-based Walmart.

Brokers have faced some challenges in connecting and becoming operational on A2X, but more and more brokers are joining the platform. Five out of the top six brokers in South Africa are already connected and trading on A2X. The trading aspect of the platform has been stable, though it may fluctuate depending on economic conditions. One of the benefits of trading on A2X is its lower cost: it is half the price of the JSE.

It’s been an exciting year for Otsile and the team at A2X, and it looks like next year will be even more promising.

These CFOs have given reasons as to why their companies have joined.

Nedbank CFO Mike Davis
“Our listing on A2X complements our existing listings on the JSE and the NSX by giving investors the option to trade on their stock exchange of choice and potentially save costs when trading in Nedbank shares.”

Tiger Brands CFO Deepa Sita
“[It] provides shareholders with the choice to transact the company’s shares on an additional platform and capture the benefits it offers.”

EOH FD Megan Pydigadu:
“EOH’s decision to list on A2X will give our shareholders access to an additional platform with lower transaction fees. This is in line with the group’s commitment to continuously find ways to increase value for shareholders.”

Santam CFO Hennie Nel
“Having an alternative exchange is quite common in the rest of the world, and now we have one in South Africa. We see A2X as a competitor to the JSE, and we’re always happy to encourage competition.”

Sasol CFO Paul Victor
“Sasol’s decision to list on A2X is part of the company’s commitment to continually find ways to increase value for shareholders as well as provide them with a variety of trading venue options.”

 

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