Call to increase minimum percentage of shares to public for IPOs

Business reporter

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

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PART-time lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica Lloyd Wint has made an appeal for the minimum 20 per cent issue of shares to the public to be raised to 30 per cent for companies looking to list on the junior market of the Jamaica Stock exchange.

His appeal follows a number of oversubscribed initial public offerings on the Jamaica Stock Exchange over the past three years.

The stock market, which is currently recognised by Bloomberg as the world's best-performing stock market, amended its junior market rules in December 2017 to accommodate no less than 100 new participating voting shareholders who hold, in aggregate, not less than 20 per cent of the fully paid, subscribed participating voting share capital for companies looking to list on the market.

“What we have observed with the junior market, because of the 20 per cent limit that companies can sell to the market, you'll find that a number of potential investors are not getting enough shares because the IPOs are oversubscribed and closed within a minute after opening,” Wint said.

He was speaking at a symposium hosted by the Banking and Finance Department of the University of Technology, Jamaica recently.

The event, which was themed 'Growth and Development: Is expanding the capital market the answer?', brought together IMF representative for Jamaica Constant Lonkeng-Ngouana; associate dean for graduate studies at UTech Jamaica Dr Andrea Sutherland; chief investment strategist and head of research, JN Fund Managers Ramon Small-Ferguson; Small Business Association of Jamaica president and managing director of Jamaica Stock Exchange Marlene Street -Forrest; Group CEO of Jamaica Corporate Credit Union Robin Levy; and president of the Small Business Association Hugh Johnson under one roof to discuss the issue.

“We ought to consider increasing the number of shares that a new company coming to the market should have – maybe 25 to 30 per cent, so that more shares can be available to the market – and I think that will make the market more efficient,” he reasoned.

Recently, creative training institute iCreate Limited successfully closed its IPO for the issue of 74,062,500 ordinary shares, a day after opening to the market.

The offer, which opened on Thursday, January 31, 2019, was originally scheduled to close on February 14, 2019, but closed on February 1 after an overwhelming response from investors. The demand for shares exceeded iCreate's target of $70 million.

Before that, Fontana Pharmacy had its IPO oversubscribed by roughly four times its target of $468 million. The IPO, which opened at 9:00 am on Thursday, December 13, closed five minutes later.

“It is a double-edged sword. We are trying to encourage the owners to issue more shares, but they have never done it before and they want to ensure that, although you have to be over 50 per cent for control or takeover, it is steps that they are taking for the first time,” JSE's Street-Forrest said.

“It's something that we appreciate that's happening. We have looked at even other ways in which we think that the market can get a bigger slice, but it is a problem. We accept this as a problem and we just have to see how the market responds,” she shared.

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