01 Mar. 2010 The Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers Limited’s Investors’ Conference at The Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos;
It is my utmost pleasure and indeed an honour to welcome such a distinguished gathering to Stanbic IBTC’s 2010 Investors’ Conference. I would like to acknowledge the presence at this event, of various stakeholders in the Nigerian financial sector who have contributed immensely to the growth and development of our capital market.
The Honourable Minister and Distinguished Panelists, leading corporates and our clients locally and from overseas, you are all welcome.
This is a conference with a focus on the Nigerian economy and specifically on the capital market.
The last two years have been tumultuous for financial markets around the World, including Nigeria. The Nigerian Stock Exchange’s (NSE) all share index has recorded double digit negative returns in the last two years. We have however started seeing a nascent recovery this year.
The big question mark is whether this nascent recovery can be sustained, given the recent well publicised political uncertainty in Nigeria.
When the idea of this Conference was first discussed some months ago, I never imagined that the range of questions from the overseas participants would include several with a political slant. As we all know, these questions were prompted by recent political developments.
Unfortunately, I am unable to provide answers to some of the most pertinent political questions. I can however assure you that many of us are asking these same “hard” questions to key members of the Executive and Legislative arms of our Government and we promise to give you meaningful feedback as soon as we have credible answers.
The foundations upon which Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers Limited built its business model from Day One was a desire to attempt to tell investors the truth at all times regarding the things that we do know and to be humble enough to admit what we do not know.
In a nutshell, we are in the business of attempting to guide investors and interacting with them continuously. We are however not in the business of deliberately deceiving or misinforming them. We have held on to these core values over the years and we have also seen our market share, in terms of the value of stockbroking trades executed, grow to over 20% in 2009, thereby 2 reconfirming our position as a clear industry leader. We see no reason for abandoning the core values that brought us this far.
My personal belief is that Nigeria is currently at a “major crossroad”. Historically, we have never really come out looking very good in International Corruption Measuring Indices – as unscientific and subjective as some of them appear to be.
The crossroad I speak of is in the political arena and in some ways it is about a struggle between Good and Evil. A struggle between the Truth and Lies. I am now reasonably confident that the truth will soon prevail. In the meantime the most pertinent quote I can find on this subject is the following paragraph from last week’s U.S. Government Statement on Nigeria:-
“Recent reports, however, continue to suggest that President Yar’Adua’s health remains fragile and that he may still be unable to fulfill the demands of his office. We hope that President Yar’Adua’s return to Nigeria is not an effort by his senior advisors to upset Nigeria’s stability and create renewed uncertainty in the democratic process.”
The good news is that Nigeria’s significantly improved telecommunications’ infrastructure, access to the internet, the spread of satellite television stations and our free and vibrant domestic press, have all combined to make it that much more difficult for those seeking to misinform all of the people all of the time.
Like President Yar’Adua, our Acting President – Goodluck Jonathan also appears to be a firm believer in the rule of law and early indications are that he is very committed to the pursuit of good governance practises and electoral reform. If we get it right in the area of electoral reform, then it should become a lot less risky for many more credible people to become politically active and to seek elective office.
Given the fact that Nigeria is amongst the frontier markets in the emerging markets universe of portfolio and institutional investors, we believe it is ideal to create a forum such as this, where investors (old and new) have an opportunity to meet and interact with the management of the companies they are invested in or wish to invest in.
On the back of the on-going financial reforms and the revelation of the true state of health of our banking industry, the valuations of some Nigerian companies on the NSE currently provide compelling arguments for investment.
However, as we all know, nobody throws darts in the dark any more. Fund managers need to engage with the companies they intend to invest in. In addition to increasing the liquidity of the Nigerian market when trades are executed, we believe that a forum like this would assist in helping investors make informed decisions.
Accordingly, in tune with the theme of this conference, “Connect. Inform. Optimise.”, we urge all participants to connect with each other and network as much as possible; obtain information about your investment targets, and please remember that Stanbic IBTC has an excellent research team with award winning analysts and robust reports available to assist you to decide on your investment priorities.I thank you for your attention.