UPDATE 1-Nigerian stock exchange wins approval for public listing

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LAGOS, March 10 (Reuters) - The Nigerian stock exchange said on Wednesday it has won regulatory approval paving way for a public listing of its shares. The exchange, the second biggest in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the main entry points to invest on the continent, has around 200 listed companies, all included in its benchmark share index.

It began changing its ownership structure from a mutual company of stockbrokers in 2017, adding new shareholders in a process known as “demutualisation”.

The exchange has received approval for the listing from the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission. It said it has re-registered as a profit-making entity, owned by shareholders, called the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, with a share capital of 1.25 billion naira ($3.28 million). It had been operating as a not-for-profit entity.

“We are elated that this milestone has been achieved ... and now look forward to the future public listing of its shares on NGX Limited,” Nigerian Stock Exchange president Abimbola Ogunbanjo said.

It has yet to set a listing price for the new entity, in which stockbrokers will hold 78% of the shares. Ordinary members will own the balance. The Nigerian Exchange Group Plc will not be raising new cash from the listing.

Nigerian stocks, rose 50% in 2020 to become the world best performing market, fell 1.8% on Tuesday, to a 10-week low, as yield-hungry investors eyed debt for returns. ($1 = 381.0000 naira) (writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; editing by Jason Neely and Jane Merriman)