South African bourse operator JSE Ltd confirmed it is looking to buy a stake in the Mauritius Stock Exchange (SEM) as it seeks to expand into Africa, after a report said it agreed to buy a 49 percent stake.
JSE deputy chief executive Nicky Newton-King told Reuters on Monday the deal between the JSE and the Indian Ocean island's bourse was still at a preliminary stage and needed regulatory approval.
"We have in principle been looking at doing something. We have been talking to Mauritius for some time," she said.
Mauritian newspaper Le Mauricien reported on Friday the JSE had agreed to buy 49 percent of the Mauritius Stock Exchange for 367,5-million rupees. Newton-King declined to confirm this.
The JSE has been actively seeking to expand its footprint in Africa and launched the JSE Africa Board last month to encourage companies elsewhere on the continent to take a secondary listing on the JSE.
Its shares gained over 1 percent and were trading 0,53 percent higher at 38,20 rand by 13:30 GMT, outpacing a weaker Johannesburg All-share index.
"The JSE would create a lot more volume and bring more credibility to the SEM," said Didier Merven, Fund Manager and Managing Director of Axys Capital Investment Port Louis.
"It would attract more cross-border listings. South African companies wanting to get offshore (for) favourable tax rates, might also be interested."
Mauritius is one of Africa's most stable and prosperous countries and its stock exchange is a member of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE), which represents the world's main exchanges.
The WFE's members account for more than 97 percent of world stock market capitalisation and the JSE and the Egyptian bourse are the only other African members.