By Nkiruka Nnorom
The Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, has said that more than N1 billion will be saved annually by listed companies as a result of the plan to stop the printing of Annual Reports and Accounts.
The Commission also confirmed that telecom provider, MTN Group, is still on course to list its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, alongside other Initial Public Offers, IPOs, being expected.
The Director General of SEC, Mounir Gwarzo, who disclosed these at the post third quarter Capital Market Committee, CMC, press briefing in Lagos, yesterday informed that besides institutional investors, 98 per cent of other shareholders do not get their Annual Reports before the Annual General Meeting, AGM, of their companies.
He, however, said that electronic version and hard copy of the Reports would be issued concurrently at the initial stage of phasing out the hard copy version of Annual Reports before the first quarter CMC meeting in March, 2018 when the progress made would be assessed.
Gwarzo said that in order to carry every minority shareholder along, company secretaries still have the responsibility of depositing the Annual Report and Accounts with shareholder groups to help their members who might have limitation accessing them online do so through their various groups.
He stated: “Presently, some companies have more than one million shareholders and you can imagine the cost of printing annual reports for them. We think it is better for the investors because he is going to have access to the electronic copy and also on the part of the company. How should we be doing something for the past 50 years and it is not adding value to the investors and the companies. Even for the benefit of change, let’s change and see how it is going to help us.”
On the listing of MTN, he said: “The conversation is back again. Initially, we had conversation with them early in the year where they shared with us some of their noble ideas and we provided what we think will be more appropriate, especially how we think the retail investors should be captured. It took them some time before they accepted our suggestions. In the last two or three months, they are back again and they want to do it through electronic means. I believe they are still on course.”
Gwarzo stated that in line with the Commission’s resolve to ensure seamless operation of capital market, the Commission has come up with e-capital market registration system form, which would integrate direct cash settlement and e-dividend mandate form into one.
Going forward, he said that Know Your Customer, KYC, initiative in the capital market would include BVN, even as he said that the Commission is committed to using BVN as ultimate means of identification in the market.
He restated that 2.1 million investors have mandated their accounts through e-dividend as at July 31, 2017, while 432,000 out of the number have unique BVN numbers.
“The total number of 2.1 million investors that have mandated their accounts have not changed. What has changed is that we have made progress in terms of getting the unique BVN numbers, which is very central. The 2.1 million investors are those that have mandated their accounts; not necessarily those that have BVN.
“What we have been doing from the last CMC till today is working so hard to extract those unique ones, which is ultimately what we are going to work with, but we have to start from asking people to mandate their accounts and then go to the next stage of extracting the vital data. That is the progress we have made,” he said.
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