The number of companies listed on the JSE and the other South African exchanges continues to decline, which does not bode well for the country’s public markets.
On Wednesday, Royal Bafokeng Platinum’s (RBPlat’s) shares were suspended from trading on the JSE following an acquisition by Impala Platinum Holdings.
The acquisition process is expected to be completed in September, after which RBPlat shares will be delisted from the JSE.
Royal Bafokeng Platinum’s delisting follows numerous other companies delisted or trading suspended by the JSE in 2023.
AmaranthCX director Paul Miller wrote that 14 companies have already delisted their ordinary shares from the JSE in the first six months of 2023.
Steinhoff, Advanced Health, Indluplace Properties, and Premier Fishing are also set to delist from the JSE. A further six companies are likely to have their securities delisted this year.
Another thirteen companies in various degrees of distress have had their securities suspended from trading.
“It is very unusual for South African companies that have been suspended to return to trading – delisting is usually inevitable,” Miller said.
This information suggests South African markets are on track to match or exceed 2022’s 27 delistings this year.
The situation is particularly concerning because there are very few new listings on the JSE and other exchanges.
Miller said only two companies have listed their securities on the JSE in 2023 – Copper360 and Premier Foods – and one transferred from the defunct ZARX to the CTSE.
He cautioned to be sceptical of arguments that all is well in local public markets because the gross market capitalisation continues to increase.
Many of the largest and most valuable companies listed on the JSE don’t have much to do with South Africa.
The six most valuable companies are all headquartered outside South Africa and are primarily listed on foreign stock exchanges with only secondary listings on the JSE.
Big names in this category include British American Tobacco, Glencore, AB InBev, Prosus, Richemont, and Anglo American.
“South Africa’s public market has been a real advantage to the country for decades, playing in a league far higher than the size of our economy would suggest it should,” Miller said.
However, South African policymakers seem happy to give up that advantage. “Market participants, like the JSE itself, have been using the wrong arguments, or they have not been arguing at all,” he said.
Miller called for policy interventions to breathe life into its public markets. “There are many examples of successful interventions, without which the delisting trajectory looks to continue.”