Q. This project is about projecting the 50 biggest companies in Nigeria; Just like we have The Fortune 500, Standard & Poor’s 500 and The Forbes Global 2000. You became the Chief Executive of The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE or The Exchange) in 2011, shortly after the global financial crisis and between then and now, you’ve launched a corporate strategic road map covering 2018-2021 where you focused on three key areas; 1. Enhancing customer focus, 2. Reorganizing for optimization, and 3. Capitalizing on big opportunities. Can you please run us through what these entails?
A: Let me start by thanking you for inviting me to the interview series on Signature50. Also, I want to appreciate you for deeming it fit to rank companies that are listed on The Exchange. A number of these companies have delivered some really interesting initiatives and you can see the positive impact on their revenue and profitability numbers. The Exchange started out in 2011 with our transformation strategy which saw us to 2015, when we converted to our growth strategy. The latest strategy that we are running on now from 2018 – 2021 is designed to make us the preferred exchange hub in Africa. And the three pillars that you mentioned, we actually look at it from four objective perspectives. The first one is customer-centricity which speaks to customer’s focus, operational efficiency which ties to the second pillar that you mentioned and then partnerships and innovation which speaks to taking advantage of big bang opportunities.
Q. In 2014, The Nigerian Stock Exchange was admitted into the World Federation of Exchanges and also emerged as the best performing exchange in Africa Now, what does this entail generally in the market?
A: It entails several things and it depends on the perspective that you are looking at it from. For us, we were able to improve on corporate governance, which gave us the solid foundation to roll out several business initiatives that allowed us to almost double the size of our balance sheet since I started in 2011 and to improve profitability not just at the exchange level but also at subsidiaries. It has given us a better footprint and platform. As you know, the capital market thrives on trust, we are selling credibility. So, we need to be perceived as being very credible, that is the only way we can deliver value to our customers. We have introduced as you noted, products and various services that have reinforced our perception as credible exchange and that is why The World Federation of Exchanges was able to bring us on because it’s quite rigorous to become a member of The World Federation of Exchanges. So, we are very pleased with that accomplishment.
Q: You were President of African Securities ExchangesAssociation from which you stepped down in 2018. At the annual conference hosted in Lagos, you advocated for privatized state-owned enterprises to be listed on the market. Can you please explain better what you meant and how you are planning to attract already privatized entities?
A: So, in the privatization process, you could actually sell companies to core investors and give them time before they are required to list. You can sell the companies directly to the public through the listing methodology or you can do some other interesting things such as have operatorship licenses which are given to people under various constructs. What I was advocating is one of two options; the first is, you come directly to the market, do an IPO and let the public own the company as a privatized entity. The second option is that, if the company does not qualify to list in the public market yet and it is going to be sold to core investors, the sales agreement with the investors should stipulate a timeframe for the company to come to the market. That advocacy effort has yielded some fruits. We were able to list SAHCOL earlier this year, as a direct result of the collaboration between the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Exchange in effecting some clauses in the sale contract agreement that was done between the government and the owners of SAHCOL.