Pakistani President Signs Law to Demutualize Stock Exchanges

Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari, signed into law yesterday a bill to demutualize the nation’s stock exchanges, a move aimed at bringing the bourses in line with international peers.

Lawmakers approved the stock exchange corporatization, demutualization and integration law on March 27. Approval of the bill requires the nation’s three stock exchanges to be converted into companies.

The main Karachi Stock Exchange, home to companies including Oil & Gas Development Co. (OGDC) and Pakistan Telecommunications Co. (PTC), follows bourses from India to Malaysia in demutualization. Under a reform plan started in 1997, management independent of the government automated trading and risk-management systems were introduced at the exchange.

The law allows the Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore stock exchanges to convert themselves into for-profit entities owned by shareholders from non-profit, mutually owned organizations.

“It will be a step forward in every way,” said Shahrukh Naqvi, head of equity sales at Invest Capital Markets Ltd. in Karachi. “It will improve confidence among retail investors, provide better price discovery and turn the market into a real source of capital for companies.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Farhan Sharif in Karachi, Pakistan at fsharif2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Darren Boey at dboey@bloomberg.net

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