Mauritius Stock Exchange
Founded in 1988 and located in picturesque Port Louis, the Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) is a private limited company and the country’s principal exchange. The Stock Exchange Act of 1988 established the SEM as well as the Stock Exchange Commission (SEC) charged with the responsibility of regulating stock exchange operations. The SEM is a founding member of the African Stock Exchange Association (ASEA) which aims to provide a formal platform encouraging co-operation between stock exchanges in the African region. Member countries include Mozambique, Botswana, Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco, Egypt, Tanzania, Ghana, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Mauritius, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
No stock operator will be surprised to find that investment and holding companies dominate the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. The island territory’s airline, and companies which live off the local tourist potential, are also listed members of the stock market, but it would be most unusual for an international operator to show any interest in them. This applies to plantation companies and to suppliers of agricultural inputs as well.
Market capitalization of even less than $1 million is enough to meet the easy listing requirements of the Mauritius stock market. The Exchange functions as a private limited company, and has adequate procedures and controls for basic stock market operations. However, it lacks critical mass, and may not remain as a feasible operation if India were to place restrictions on the Mauritius role in the economy of the large and growing sub-continent economy. Since the Indian government loses enormous streams of revenue through the arrangement, the Mauritius route is vulnerable. The benefits for the Mauritius economy are also minuscule, since investors maintain skeleton presences in the territory in order to claim the tax benefits of local residence and incorporation.
It should be said to the credit of Mauritius that it respects democratic conditions, and has none of the abuses of human rights which are common in the neighboring continent of Africa. There are chances of some modern services being established on the island, even if the Indian government wakes up to the present duplicity. However, Mauritius will have to attract a significant new population of technologists, if it is to take a share of the outsourcing pie from the developed world. The island’s government also hopes to compete with other tourist destinations by offering consumer and luxury goods from all over the world at tax-free rates.
The SEM operates two distinct markets, being the Official List and Over-the-Counter catering for unlisted shares. The Official List of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius features approximately 40 companies, with the Over-the-Counter market dealing with around 80 companies. Sectors on the SEM are categorized as Banks and Insurance, Sugar, Industry, Commerce, Investments, Leisure & Hotels and Transport. The Official Market makes use of three market indices – SEMDEX, SEM-7 and SEMTRI.
Trading at SEM takes place from Monday through to Friday and is conducted by means of an open outcry, single-price auction and order-driven system. A major development at the SEM was the establishment in the latter part of 1997 of a new electronic clearing and settlement system. A further noteworthy development took place in 1998 with the implementation of a Central Depository System which allows delivery versus payment (DVP) on a rotating basis of T+3. Acknowledging the need to keep up with the fast-moving world of technology, future plans for the Stock Exchange of Mauritius include the introduction of a fully electronic trading system, as well as the incorporation of new financial products on the stock market.