ZAR CEO Etienne Nel. Picture: JEREMY GLYN
ZAR CEO Etienne Nel. Picture: JEREMY GLYN

ZAR X made its debut on Monday and settled its first trade in 10 seconds — a buy order for 100 shares in agricultural group Senwes at R10.50 a share.

The trade was matched, settled and cleared in 10 seconds, demonstrating how well ZAR X’s platform worked, said CEO Etienne Nel.

In 2016, the JSE implemented a four-day settlement cycle known as T+3, making ZAR X’s real-time settlement the quickest in the domestic capital markets and in line with global best practice.

"This is the first time in 50 years that a company has listed on a [South African] exchange other than the JSE," Nel said.

"This is an exciting moment in our lives. ZAR X has brought new initiative to the market… transforming the competitive landscape in SA," said Francois Strydom, the CEO of 107-year-old Senwes.

While Nel did not expect a large volume of Senwes shares to be traded on Monday, he said ZAR X could not have asked for a better first listing, considering the calibre of Senwes.

The group, which has a market capitalisation of about R2bn and 25%-27% of its shares in free float, focuses on the supply of equipment, seed, storage facilities and financial services to the agricultural sector. Its 60 silo complexes allow storage of 25% of SA’s grain output.

A number of the group’s subsidiaries are in joint-venture agreements with companies such as WesBank, Imperial Logistics and Afgri.

Senwes has separately listed Senwesbel, the investment arm of the group, which holds 51.58% of group equity.

Jurgen Boyd, the registrar of securities services at the Financial Services Board (FSB), said it was exciting to introduce a new competitor, in the form of ZAR X, into the market.

"Competition is always good for any market," Boyd said on the sidelines of the Senwes listing.

The FSB had beefed up its staff complement to serve additional exchanges and would continue to uphold the same high standards it always had, he said.

ZAR X began its licence application process more than two years ago and was awarded a licence on August 31 2016. A recent appeal against the award of the licence, brought by the JSE and 4 Africa Exchange (4AX) against the registrar and ZAR X, was dismissed with costs by the FSB’s appeal board.

4AX, which was awarded a licence at the same time as ZAR X, said on Monday that it would challenge the decision of the appeal board.

© Business Day

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