Johannesburg Stock Exchange offers virus crisis relief

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South Africa’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) will offer temporary relief to companies in financial distress because of the coronavirus crisis, including cutting fees for new listings and extended payment terms, it said on Monday.

Pressure on business following lockdown measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus has led to an increase in companies filing for business rescue – a local form of bankruptcy protection.

“The small cap counters are among the most vulnerable in strained markets. The discounts we are announcing for these market segments are aimed at stimulating liquidity and supporting this vital growth node of our economy,” JSE Group Chief executive Leila Fourie said in a statement.

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Under the measures, the JSE will grant distressed companies extended payment terms of between three and six months, with no interest charged and offer a 50% fee reduction for trading, clearing, and settlement in all companies listed on the JSE AltX and BEE Board for the remainder of 2020, it said.

AltX is the alternative board for smaller companies to raise capital on the JSE.

The JSE is also reducing listing fees by 25% for those small companies and AltX companies looking to tap the market to raise secondary capital.

In addition, the bourse will increase the amount of cash disbursements returned to small and medium stockbrokers that are on the JSE’s Enterprise Development Programme. The scheme was introduced by the JSE in 2016 to increase black participation in the exchange.