No reason to reject China consortium’s proposal: BSEC chief

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Star Business Report

There is no basis for turning down the Chinese consortium’s proposal to buy 25 percent stakes in Dhaka Stock Exchange and become a strategic partner, said M Khairul Hossain, chairman of the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission.

At the same time, the proposal from the National Stock Exchange of India will also be considered as they have successfully handled demutualisation of its bourse, he told The Daily Star yesterday. “It will be better if we can engage both the investors.”

Hossain’s comments come amid reports of the BSEC and DSE being at loggerheads over the winning bidder.

The country’s premier bourse’s hunt for a strategic partner comes as part of its conditions for demutualisation in 2013, which transformed it from an entity owned by mostly brokerage-owning members into a for-profit company owned by shareholders.

Earlier on Saturday, the DSE board unanimously chose a consortium of the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE) as the strategic partner of the premier bourse.

Upon sensing that their offer will not be selected, Vikram Limaye, managing director and chief executive of the NSE, rushed in to Dhaka on Sunday and got straight into lobbying with BSEC, which will have the final word on the winning proposal.

Soon after, BSEC called the DSE’s Chairman Abul Hashem and Managing Director KAM Majedur Rahman and asked them to further scrutinise both the proposals — a move that was viewed by many as the stock market regulator doing the bidding for the Indian party.

“The Chinese consortium offered a much higher price than the Indian party but the former has no demutualisation experience. At the same time, NSE will not be allowed to buy DSE’s shares at a lower price,” Hossain said. A consortium of Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE) proposed to purchase 45 crore shares of the DSE for Tk 22 each as the strategic partner of the premier bourse.

It also offered technical support worth $37 million (about Tk 300 crore). In exchange, it sought for a seat at the DSE board and assured that it will not ask for any return on its investment for 10 years.

In contrast, a consortium led by NSE offered to purchase the same number of shares but for Tk 15 each. It also offered technical support but it did not give a monetary value. In exchange, it wanted two seats at the DSE board.

Though there has been no political pressure yet to select one offer over the other, the government will be consulted before making the final call, he said.

“We can take any internal decision alone but when the matter is about external agreement we must take the government’s decision.”

Hossain went on to assure the DSE members that the regulator will do everything at the interest of capital market and stakeholders.

“It is a great opportunity for us that foreign investors are interested in investing in our stock exchange.”

Hossain spoke to The Daily Star on a workshop titled “Alternative Investment in Bangladesh: A New Avenue of Investment”.

The workshop was jointly organised by Maslin Capital, a venture capital firm, and Capital Market Journalists Forum at Hotel La Vinci in Dhaka.

Wali-ul-Maroof Matin, founder and managing director of Maslin Capital, and Mahmoodul Hoque, a director of the BSEC, conducted the workshop.