Picture: JSE
Picture: JSE

Assore’s decision to delist, after buying out its minority shareholders at a fat premium, is yet another wake-up call for the JSE.

While the stock exchange is no doubt enjoying the huge volumes that have stampeded through the market these past two weeks — even as stocks have been shredded — it is a sobering indictment of the bourse as the hub to raise capital when a company that has been listed for 70 years no longer sees value in being a publicly traded entity.

"This offer, which we have been contemplating for some time, gives some of our long-standing and faithful minority shareholders an opportunity to exit their Assore shareholding at a fair long-term valuation, and at a significant premium to the recent market," said CEO Charles Walters in the company’s notification to investors. It speaks volumes that investors would not have done so in the usual course of trade: that is, through the bid-offer process that sets prices at generally fair and transparent levels.

JSE CEO Leila Fourie has denied that the bourse is facing a delisting crisis. But it is clear that fewer companies see the value in going public, and many more are wondering why they retain the expense of a listing at all, even as their shares clock up daily declines.

The JSE, say some, is a dead man walking. It’s hard to disagree.