From the CEO

The start of a new year is synonymous with taking stock, a fresh start and setting new goals. It is with this sense of cautious optimism that I write to you.

From the CEO

The world this time last year was in a very different space. The Ukraine war was yet to erupt and the world was coming to terms with a future defined by a global pandemic. A year later, we are living in the new normal that is an amalgam of the old and a bit of the new we imagined. The consequences of the war in the Ukraine have reached all the way to the southern tip of Africa, but the war itself has not evolved the way the doomsayers imagined. In the process, there has been another tectonic shift in geopolitics.

In SA, we have our own problems – some are structural, legacy driven; others are newer. In spite of these challenges that we are navigating, we’re a country of incredible resilience, grit, inspiration and brilliance.

I had the privilege of attending the 2023 edition of the World Economic Forum in January in Davos, where the theme was ‘co-operation in a fragmented world’. I was very intrigued by WEF executive chairman Klaus Schwab’s opening remarks. He noted that ‘we are confronted with unprecedented multiple challenges’, adding that the global economy is undergoing massive disruption; there is a fundamental energy transformation and world supply chains are being radically reshaped. In the midst of this, we are facing high inflation, spiralling interest rates and growing national debt. The low- and middle-income groups are hurting; there is a growth in populism, increasing fragmentation and rising confrontation.

You would have been forgiven if you thought that Schwab was speaking of SA, but he was speaking about the world. It proves that SA – despite our perceptions, both negative and positive – is actually in much the same position, facing similar problems to the rest of the world.

It’s no secret that we come from a year that was heavily impacted by macro-economic and global events that created a risk-off attitude towards emerging markets. However, it is encouraging to see sentiment beginning to shift in favour of emerging markets due to the weakening economic outlook for developed countries. This positive sentiment positions SA as a safe haven among emerging markets, given the political instability in Brazil, political and economic uncertainties in China, and the impact of sanctions on Russia.

Since the beginning of this year, the JSE’s All Share Index (ALSI) is up almost 9% after locally listed equities benefited from rising international equity markets. At the time of writing (25 January), SA’s ALSI recorded the second-highest returns among developed and emerging markets.

In light of the slightly more positive sentiment towards emerging markets, 2023 promises to be a busy year for us at the JSE, as we to continue to operate efficient markets through what is likely to be another volatile 12 months for global and local markets.

We remain steadfast in our focus to operate a reliable, world-class financial marketplace that enables ease of capital raising and share trading on the bourse.

In pursuit of building a future-fit JSE, we remain invested in driving accelerated growth in our new business lines – JSE Private Placements (JPP) and JSE Investor Services (JIS). To date, JPP has 20 deals published on the platform looking to raise more than R4 billion, and on-boarded in excess of R12 billion worth of investors. JIS continues to expand its market share, which currently sits at 29% (up from 20% at acquisition).

Sustainability remains a strategic focus and key driver for the JSE, and we will continue to be at the forefront of sustainability-related discourse while consistently advancing better sustainability practices in business. We continue to make a concerted effort to contribute towards transforming the economy, to build on our strengths, and to maintain being the market of choice to raise capital.

I think you’ll agree that, notwithstanding the challenges we face in SA, we will still have to diligently work at it, as we have proven countless times how resilient we are as a country and a people.

Dr Leila Fourie
Group Chief Executive Officer