Jamaica Stock Exchange Goes Global

The Jamaica Stock Exchange made its first foray into the international equities market with a visit to the center of the world’s financial arena, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The highpoint of the visit on June 3, 2005, was the ceremonial ringing of the NYSE’s opening bell promptly at 9:30 a.m., signaling the opening of trading on that market, by Jamaica’s Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. P.J.Patterson who was in New York to receive the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Distinguished Service award at the Waldorf Astoria. This is the second time in the NYSE’s over 200-year history that a Caribbean leader has rung the opening bell. Grenada’s Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell was the first Caribbean leader to do so in 2004. It is estimated that 130-million people worldwide view the opening and closing bell ceremonies daily. The visiting team was headed by Executive Chairman, Roy Johnson and included General Manager, Marlene Street; JSE Directors, Christopher Berry, CEO of Mayberry Investments Ltd.;Leo Williams, Director of JMMB Securities Ltd. and Mark Berry, COO of Mayberry Investments Ltd. “Jamaica’s Prime Minister was given the honour to ring the bell against the background of the NYSE’s interest in global outreach and in recognition of its desire to encourage the development of capital markets worldwide. It accorded the privilege of the ringing of the opening bell to national leaders who have taken an active interest in the development of their country’s capital market,” said Mr. Johnson in an interview. Last year the Prime Minister had indicated that more government companies would be listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, to not only increase listings but also to provide much needed capital for economic development. The Prime Minister discussed with the NYSE, issues of Jamaica’s development, its future path and emphasized the increasing investments in tourism and information technology. Mr. Johnson pointed out that the JSE, which spearheaded the visit, wanted to signal to the international community that “we have developed our market to international standards and are open for business”. “We in the Jamaican market have not traced any correlation between volatility in the US market and our own. For example, in 1997 and after September 11, 2001 our market was not negatively affected. This should signal that overseas investors can consider our market as a viable diversification alternative,” he said. “Our presence at the New York Stock Exchange provides us with visibility to attract both Jamaicans in the diaspora and potential fund managers who might not be aware that there is an active Jamaican equities market,” Mr. Johnson said. The JSE’s representatives had discussions with NYSE’s executives to gain an understanding of the regulatory framework which the NYSE will maintain after becoming a public listed company. One of the enduring and attractive features of the NYSE has been the fact that companies listing on that Exchange enjoy access to the most developed capital market as well as a well-regulated Exchange. The JSE also initiated discussions with fund managers to explore how the JSE could attract capital to the Jamaican market place. This was an initial exploratory encounter and it will possibly be followed up with a road show later in the year, the Executive Chairman revealed. The NYSE is the world’s leading and most technologically advanced equities market. On an average day, 1.46 billion shares, valued at $46.1 billion, trade on the NYSE. In 2004, the NYSE was the most competitive venue for trading its listed stocks, providing investors with the lowest costs, deepest liquidity and best prices.