The JSE is set to launch a nationwide initiative to match South African investors with the R4.5 billion in unclaimed dividends in the country.
This follows the issuance of a Financial Sector Conduct Authority’s (FSCA) discussion paper in 2022, which highlighted the pressing issue of unclaimed financial assets in South Africa, including unclaimed dividends among South African investors.
According to the FSCA’s paper, there is an estimated R88.56 billion worth of unclaimed assets across the financial sector, of which over R4.5 billion is unclaimed dividends.
The JSE’s unclaimed dividends initiative will aim to identify and reunite individuals with unclaimed or “lost” entitlements stemming from limited or outdated information about the owners or holders of shares.
“As the JSE, we firmly believe that returning R4.5 billion worth of unclaimed dividends to South African owners of shares will make a profound economic impact on their lives,” said JSE director of marketing and corporate affairs Vuyo Lee.
“The JSE is supportive of the goal of ensuring that unclaimed dividends reach shareholders and that these shareholders continue to benefit from their ownership of their securities into the future.”
“We are excited that companies with large shareholder bases are joining forces with this JSE initiative.”
The bourse said its initiative would begin with a shareholder education drive that will inform the public on:
- How dividends work.
- The ways unclaimed dividends could arise.
- How individuals can verify whether unclaimed shares and dividends are due to them from listed companies that are participating in the initiative.
- How to update their shareholder information.
JSE Investor Services (JIS), a subsidiary of the JSE, will be an implementation agent for the processing and paying of dividends to legitimate claimants and updating the share registers of companies.
“Through its tracing services, JIS has over the last five years identified and paid R408 million due to thousands of investors, including a significant portion of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) shareholders, with some claims dating back more than 15 years,” Lee said.
“JIS possesses the expertise, resources and track record to effectively execute the second phase of this JSE initiative.”
She explained that the JIS has scalable contact centre capabilities ring-fenced for this initiative and will use data privacy and access protocols, and digital capabilities for shareholder validity verification.
This will include a direct link to Home Affairs for FICA purposes, and it will introduce online claims processing through ShareHub, its digital shareholder communication portal.