By Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja – The Punch
The Securities Exchange Commission on Thursday explained why it directed the Nigerian Stock Exchange to lift the technical suspension placed on the shares of Oando Plc.
The NGSE had on October 23, 2017 placed a technical suspension on trading in the shares of Oando Plc. Trading in Oando shares had been frozen for six months after SEC ordered the suspension so as to probe alleged insider trading and the oil company’s shareholding structure.
But speaking on the development in Abuja on Thursday, the Acting Director-General, SEC, Dr. Abdul Zubair, said the suspension on the company’s shares was done in the interest of the market. He explained that before the decision was reached, the management of Oando as well as the umbrella body of all shareholders’ unions in the company made written submissions for the suspension to be lifted.
Zubair added that while the suspension of shares from trading on the floor of the NGSE was usually for a short period, that of Oando extended beyond the normal period owing to litigation instituted by the shareholders. As a result of the court cases, he said the commission, as a law abiding agency of government, was constrained to continue with the forensic audit or lift the suspension. According to him, with the withdrawal of the suit in February, the forensic audit has resumed while the technical suspension has been lifted.
Zubair stated, “The shares of Oando Plc were placed on technical suspension in October 2017 upon the announcement of the forensic audit, which aims at protecting investors as a short-term measure. “Suspensions are typically intended for a short period to ensure market stability and thereafter lifted to allow market dictates. “However, the suspension of the shares of Oando Plc was prolonged due to several litigation by Oando and other shareholders contesting the propriety of the forensic audit and technical suspension.
“Litigation has now been withdrawn, the independent forensic audit by Deloitte is ongoing and the preliminary result is expected. “Accordingly, SEC directed the NGSE to lift the technical suspension and allow market determination of the share price.”
The acting SEC DG said contrary to speculations that there was a disagreement between the regulator and the NGSE on the process of lifting the suspension, the commission was not in dispute with any agency. “The commission acted in the interest of the shareholders and will continue to protect the interests of all the investors and other stakeholders in the capital market. SEC will update relevant stakeholders on the outcome of the forensic audit,” he added.
Meanwhile, the shares of the company commenced trading on the capital market on Thursday morning following the SEC’s directive. On its first full day of trading, Oando’s shares were highly sought after. The Chief Compliance Officer and Company Secretary, Ms. Ayotola Jagun, said, “On day one, 178 million Oando shares were on bid with only 5.5 million available for sale. The company’s share price hit the NGSE daily price ceiling of 10 per cent by 10.45am; further evidence that there is a lot of interest in Oando shares.”