Nigerian crackdown: Iron Lady promises a clean stock exchange

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The Independent Online

Nigeria's "Iron Lady", Arunma Oteh, has promised to stamp out corruption in the country's financial sector ahead of a privatisation of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, which lists companies worth £3.76bn.

Ms Oteh, who heads Nigeria's Securities Exchange Commission, said at a roadshow in London last week: "We are building a world class capital market. It is important that the market be of the highest integrity and there will be zero tolerance for anything improper."

She has already sacked the exchange's previous director general and launched an investigation into alleged financial mismanagement, insider dealing and stock price manipulation at Africa's second largest exchange. "What we have done in the last six months should send signals of our serious intent."

In a bid to expand the exchange, Ms Oteh said she would have a "world class" management team in place by the end of the year. This team would try to increase the number of company flotations particularly in the active energy, oil, cement and telecomms sectors. She is also working on a "timeline for demutualisation of the stock exchange" and is looking at different examples from Asia and the West on privatising stock exchanges.

Nigeria's Finance Minister, Olusegun Aganga, who is leading the delegation, announced plans to privatise the power sector to help overcome the "huge infrastructure deficit". He said he had begun a search for bookrunners to sell a $500m eurobond this year.

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