For the JSE, 2014 was a year of many achievements. Once again, for the fifth consecutive year, the WEF ranked SA first out of 144 countries in its latest Global Competitiveness Report – for both the regulation of its securities exchange as well as the auditing and reporting standards to which local companies must adhere. We can never become complacent about our top position in world rankings. We appointed our new chairman, Nku Nyembezi-Heita, on the retirement of our long-standing chairman Humphrey Borkum.

The JSE rebranded and revitalised its look, moving to a new modern image that positions us as a world-class, modern and leading African exchange. We launched our media hub, which includes CNBC Africa, BizNews and Power FM and helps us get news about our exchange and our clients out to the world. We also recorded a number of important technology achievements, including the commissioning of our co-location hub, which enables clients to place their trading equipment in our data centre.

We constantly strive to expand foreign participation in all aspects of our markets, which includes attracting new members, issuers and investors. In 2014, we introduced a fast-track listing process to make it quicker for companies already listed on certain international exchanges to secondary list on the JSE. We also welcomed Dubai-based Arqaam Capital as an equity member. In all, it was a good year – the JSE listed 23 companies: six on AltX, 17 on the Main Board.

We are making good progress on the move from a T+5 settlement cycle to T+3. During 2014, the JSE successfully completed the second phase of this priority project, implementing a new equity clearing system and making substantial changes to existing settlement systems, including the broker dealer accounting system. After phase three is implemented, the JSE will be more closely aligned with global best practice and our exchange will be an even more efficient and world-class operation.

SA seems set for a challenging 2015, with persistently high unemployment, electricity supply constraints and disappointing growth. Offshore investors and the ratings agency are watching us closely. It is important that, while working together on solutions, all stakeholders take care regarding the tone of the national dialogue as it impacts both the national psyche as well as the confidence of investors for whose attention we compete.

From the JSE, much is demanded in 2015. Our top priority is to move the third phase of the transition to T+3 settlement close to completion. I thank participants from across the market for their ongoing efforts on this initiative as we near the finish line.

In partnership with Treasury, we will be implementing an electronic trading platform for SA government bonds. This platform will deepen transparency within the government bond market and enable Treasury to more accurately monitor activities in its debt.

A first for the country will be the introduction of tax-free savings and investment accounts. The JSE will soon launch its own TESAs and welcomes this innovative approach from Treasury to encourage a savings and investment culture in SA.

We will continue to progress the implementation of our multi-year Integrated trading and clearing project. In a phased approach, this initiative will migrate all derivative and bond markets to the MillenniumIT trading platform, and all markets to a new clearing platform. The programme will offer many benefits including centralised and improved pre-, intra- and post-trade risk management, once again ensuring that we align ourselves with world-class standards in trading and clearing.

We thank you all for accompanying us on our strategic journey of enhancing the quality of our products and services to the South African and global financial communities.

Nicky Newton-King
Chief Executive Officer, JSE

January 2015
Image: Cindy Fourie