Pending the return of a bullish run in the capital market, Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) is set to list no fewer than four privatised firms on the market. Director-General of BPE, Mr. Alex Okoh, disclosed this in an interview with THISDAY to mark his 60th birthday, which coincided with Nigeria’s diamond independence anniversary. Okoh said the listing was a way of encouraging wider public participation in the acquisition of government assets.
Although Okoh did not divulge the identities of the entities slated for the capital market through public listing, THISDAY gathered that some of them were in the petro-chemical sector.
The BPE director-general said regarding the planned public listing, “I think that is the ideal situation. As far as I am concerned, ultimately, we have to be encouraging wider public participation in the acquisition of government assets – what you call the national patrimony.
“That is one of the best ways in which every citizen will feel that privatisation has been fair to them. If you’re able to buy, may be 1,000 units, as your resources can afford you in a national asset that has been privatised, then you feel a sense of common ownership of the privatised entity.
“I think public offers are the most democratic way to go about divestment in government assets. However, recently, we have seen how the stock market and the capital market have performed. It has been extremely challenging for the capital market, and values have been compromised even for existing businesses in the stock market.”
According to him, “Share prices have fallen significantly. So, it’s a matter of timing. Some of those privatised entities we will take to the capital market, but we are being watchful of the appropriate time to take those assets to the market so that they can get good value and not the depressed value that the market currently has.
“We tried a test case with SAHCO (Skypower Aviation Handing Company) about 18 months ago. The response wasn’t too encouraging, and for us, it was a reflection of the kind of appetite that investors have for the capital market right now. Although, we have listed some entities that we should be taking to the capital market, we want the market itself to recover before we bring those enterprises to the market.”
Noting that it might be premature to name the companies slated for public listing, Okoh stated, “But we have at least four of those companies that are ready to come to the capital market. So, we don’t want to pre-empt the market.”
He explained that the BPE was already in consultation with the relevant stakeholders and agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), and the stockbrokers’ association, “For them to understand that we will bring these enterprises to the market once the market shows signs that it could adequately provide value for the stocks.”