The Nigerian Exchange Limited has hinted at possible restructuring of the rules guiding its listings to attract more initial public offerings from Nigeria’s tech companies in a bid to deepen the market with their relatively high valuations.
Between 2019 and 2021, five Nigerian companies have raised funding led by foreign venture capital firms making them unicorns – companies valued above $1bn.
Interswitch raised $200m from Visa in 2019, placing the company’s value above $1bn.
Jumia Technologies listed on the New York Stock Exchange ignoring the local bourse on April 2019. It was valued at $1.67bn as of the close of trading on September 30.
Also, Flutterwave raised $170m in 2020 bringing its valuation to $1bn while Opay and Andela have secured $400m and $200m respectively to be valued $2.0bn and $1.5bn in 2021. The NGX inaugurated the Technovation conference to engage the blooming tech sector and its major players.
Responding to questions asked during a panel discussion at the virtual conference, divisional head of listings at NGX, Olumide Bolumole, stated that to enhance capital formation for tech firms and encourage them to list on the exchange, they were looking to tweak some rules that could form potential hindrances to the companies.
He said many of the listing rules required companies to be profitable for listing, but since tech firms were largely in their early stages, a requirement for profitability would be a major hindrance to them.
“That is something we are critically looking at and seeing if we can find another way of achieving that same metric or even doing away with it completely if the buy side does not care for that.
“The other area that we have seen is on corporate governance rules which may require some modifications.
“We are very intentional with having conversations about seeing how we can tweak things for tech companies.
“Financial reporting is another one. We have quarterly financial reports that International Financial Reporting Standards state, and there are many good reasons it exists that way.
“Maybe, there is an alternative way that we could deal with that within the contexts of the legal requirements of Nigeria and where there are specific opportunities for modifications.”
Bolumole revealed that the exchange intended to give its input in the startup bill and also help the high net worth institutional and retail buy side in the valuation of tech companies.