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JSE targeting 50 new listings in two years

Published:Sunday | June 28, 2015 | 6:00 AMNeville Graham

The Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) is going after 50 new

listings, a target it hopes to hit within two years.

The project is backed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and is especially targeted at SMEs.

JSE General Manager Marlene Street-Forrest said the exchange is pushing the project ahead of 2017 when new junior listings will no longer be eligible for a tax break. Currently, each listing gets five years of income tax reprieve; those that listed before 2015 got 10 years of income tax breaks.

"The idea is to go into the field where the small and medium-size companies are and we will ... work with these companies over the 24 months and, based on that, increase the listings on the junior market," Street-Forrest said as she fielded questions at JSE's annual general meeting on Thursday.

Fifty new listings, or 25 per year, is an ambitious target given current outcomes. Last year, for example, the stock exchange had five new ordinary listings across its markets, and three preference listings.

The JSE has 74 ordinary and preference listings overall - a third of them trade on the junior exchange, which comprises 23 ordinary and three preference stock. The combined market is valued at $417 billion by capitalisation, while the US dollar market is valued at an additional US$126 million ($14.7b).

The IDB-funded listing project is valued at US$1.14 million. It calls for a pavement-pounding strategy aimed at getting more companies to list on the exchange. Street-Forrest says the JSE will also lobby hard for the reversal of the decision to phase out tax breaks.

"Many companies are interested in listing on the exchange because of the benefit that they will get from paying no corporate tax for some period and that benefit is to put back that money in the business for growth," she said.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com