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Aig steps into the breach

Aig steps into the breach

There have been some interesting movements at the top level of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). Aliko Dangote resigned as president of the body, quoting business pressure, and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, former boss of Access Bank and one of the most dynamic business leaders in the country, has replaced him. What impact will this have on the NSE’s future? Frederick Mordi has the details.

When business mogul Aliko Dangote announced his intention to step down as president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) earlier in the year, he took many by surprise, since he is not due to complete his tenure until 2015.

Dangote eventually resigned from the position in September at the 53rd annual general meeting of the NSE held in Lagos. He was the first president of the Nigerian bourse to step down before the end of his term.

Explaining his decision, Dangote said it would give him more time to look after his new business interests, particularly the petroleum refining, petrochemicals and fertiliser projects. The Dangote Group, which he presides over as president/chief executive, received a Licence-To-Establish (LTE) a refinery from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in September this year. The projects, estimated at $9bn, are expected to be
completed in 2017. He said: “My decision is driven by the need for me to have more time for the execution of my companies’
expansion drive in Nigeria and Africa at large.”

He expressed confidence in the ability of the executive team and the council of the Exchange to ensure his successor sustains the current growth trajectory of the NSE as it works towards becoming a regional force in the global financial marketplace. Analysts have praised Dangote for ensuring stability in the Nigerian bourse during his tenure.

Following his resignation, the national council of the NSE elected the immediate past group managing director/CEO of Access Bank Plc,
Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, as the new president of the Nigerian bourse. Before his new position, Aig-Imoukhuede was the first vice-president of the exchange.

He assumed the presidency of the NSE in line with its tradition for the first vice-president of the council to become the next president at the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent. The council of the NSE comprises 14 members made up of the president, the director-general/CEO and other members.

Stakeholders react

Stakeholders in the Nigerian capital market have expressed confidence in the new helmsman of the NSE, noting his track record of achievements in the nation’s banking industry and his international clout, which will give the exchange more
visibility.

Setting an agenda for Aig-Imoukhuede and his team, they advised the new council members of the exchange to ensure wide consultation before taking a major decision that could affect investors in the Nigerian capital market.

One of the stakeholders, an immediate past council member and chairman of Association of Issuing Houses of Nigeria (AIHN), Victor Ogiemwonyi, believes the new president can be trusted to deliver as he had taken active part in the affairs of the NSE since he came on board last year.

Ogiemwonyi said: “My advice is that he continues on the same trajectory and works with the new council and management to ensure the continued stability and growth the exchange already has recorded. He should find ways to carry along the market.”

The chairman, Capital Market Solicitors Association of Nigeria (CMSA), Uche Obi, shares the same opinion.

He wants Aig-Imoukhuede to step up advocacy initiatives for the NSE to further enhance its growth.

Obi added: “He should leverage his experience to attract more larger-cap and credible companies to list on the exchange. He should lead the exchange to raise and sustain the bar on investor protection measures and sound corporate governance among quoted companies.”

Other stakeholders have called on Aig-Imoukhuede to focus on reviving the primary market since the secondary market has recovered. They also want him to tackle the perennial issue of share price manipulation, sanction listed companies that fail to give returns to investors, and conclude the proposed demutualisation of the NSE.

Demutualisation is a process of transforming a stock exchange from being a self-regulatory organisation without shareholders, into a public company. Demutualisation allows the shares of an exchange to be quoted on its floor and provides exchanges access to more capital to meet their needs.

Analysts point out that the dominance of the Nigerian bourse by some high-net-worth individuals is the main reason for failed previous attempts at demutualisation of the
exchange.

However, while some analysts believe that he has what it takes to successfully manage the NSE, others want him to go a step further. They want him to change from being a ‘ceremonial’ president into becoming more involved in the affairs of the bourse.

For instance, they say, he could use his close relationship with the government to fight for more incentives that would encourage indigenous companies to list on the NSE.

He could leverage his influence to persuade some of the reluctant multinationals, particularly telecom firms such as MTN Nigeria and Globacom Nigeria, to consider listing on the Nigerian bourse.

Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is expected to announce, in November, a 10-year master plan designed to ensure growth of the Nigerian capital market,

The plan, which is meant to cover the period 2015–2025, seeks to increase the depth of the capital market, diversify sources of capital and attract foreign direct investment.

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Written by Frederick Mordi

Frederick Mordi has about 15 years experience in journalism, communications consulting and corporate communications. He holds an MSc in Media and Communications from the Pan-Atlantic University (the parent institution of the Lagos Business School (LBS)). A versatile writer and blogger, he won the Commonwealth Award for Short Stories in 2004. He is currently the Internal Communications Lead for Dangote Group.

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