EDITORIAL: Waiting for a rush of new listings
The listing of a slew of consumer-related counters signals considerable long-term faith in the local economy
The market is never wrong ... or so they say. If that adage holds true, the local economy looks set for some vibrancy in the medium term. Though it must be said that to date there is not much market movement — in terms of euphoric share price shifts — to suggest investors are totally captivated by the political changes that resulted in Cyril Ramaphosa wresting the ANC and state leadership away from Jacob Zuma.
Certainly, shifts in the rand at the time of writing could easily be construed as investors losing faith in SA once again.
But let’s look at the big picture. In the past two weeks two sizeable consumer-aligned businesses — glassmaker Consol and household-brands conglomerate Libstar — have decided to wend their way to the JSE. While these businesses do have international or African ambitions, the main operational focus is firmly on expanding profitable footholds in SA.
Both companies will earmark the capital raised in their respective listings to bolster capacity, which does show a sense of confidence in the long-term viability of consumer industries in SA.
One might also remember that these are not the only consumer-centric businesses to have eyed the JSE lately. Long4Life, an acquisitive investment vehicle steered by deal-making doyen Brian Joffe, and Kaap Agri, a specialist retailer with the adventurous PSG as a large shareholder, listed on the JSE last year. Health-care retailer Dis-Chem also listed last year, and has since enjoyed a strong run as investors backed its command of a captive consumer niche. The emergence of new fishing enterprises, including Sea Harvest and Premier Fishing, also speaks to an economy with increased spending power across the middle class.
While it may be a little premature to speak of a consumer-driven listings boom, there are persistent murmurings of other consumer-type listings — most notably Bounty Brands (backed by the Coast2Coast team that formed health-care brands specialist Ascendis) and Premier Group (a consumer-goods conglomerate controlled by Brait).
Acorn Agri and Overberg Agri, two unlisted agribusiness players, are in the throes of a merger that is expected to culminate in a listing on the JSE.
What’s more, HomeChoice — a catalogue retailer which seems to harbour ambitions to become the Amazon of Africa — has chosen this delicate juncture to raise substantial capital for its various growth endeavours.
Listings booms seem to roll around every 10 years or so. On this basis, the JSE (and maybe some of the newer bourses that have sprung up recently) is slightly overdue for a rush of new listings. Are we seeing the start of a serious new-listings advance?
Every listing boom has a theme — the late 1980s being focused on (sometimes very wonky) venture capital and entrepreneurial endeavours, the 1990s brought the technology wave and the late-2000s the infrastructure thrust.
The listing of a slew of consumer-related counters would signal considerable long-term faith in the local economy (notwithstanding the ripple effects of the recent Vat increase). But would it not be a real confidence booster, of the nitty-gritty kind, to see an SA-focused mining exploration company with decent scale seeking a listing on the JSE? That would require a greater degree of certainty around key regulatory issues, though that might not happen too soon.
But hopefully we don’t have to wait until 2028 to see some meaningful pick-up in mining activity on the bourse.
* This article was written before Consol pulled the plug on its proposed listing