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Nigeria to Sell Abuja Commodity Exchange Stake to Revive Market

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Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s government plans to sell its ownership of the Abuja Securities & Commodities Exchange by the middle of the year after missing an initial deadline in a plan to revive trading.

“The government wants to privatize the only commodity exchange and it had committed to doing it by the end of last year,” Securities and Exchange Commission Director General Arunma Oteh said in a Jan. 15 interview at the regulator’s headquarters in the capital, Abuja. “It didn’t meet that deadline, but it’s planning to do something by the middle of 2014.”

Companies including Nigeria’s Heirs Holdings Ltd., a Lagos-based investor with interests across Africa in banking, energy, real estate and agriculture, plan to acquire or set up a commodities exchange in the continent’s most populous nation of about 170 million people. Nigeria had Africa’s third-biggest cocoa harvest last year and produces crops such as cotton and sugar.

The Abuja bourse was converted from a stock exchange to a commodities market in 2001, according to its website, which last posted a news story in November 2010 and has information on crops traded dated January 2008.

Heirs Holdings Chairman Tony Elumelu wants to acquire the state-owned Abuja-based exchange when it is sold, he said in an interview last month. If it’s unable to buy the exchange, Heirs Holdings will apply to the SEC to set one up, he said.

The company, through its African Exchange Holdings Ltd. unit, has stakes in Kigali, Rwanda-based and Lagos-based National Association of Securities Dealers trading platform. In collaboration with the Nigerian Grain Reserve Agency and the Agriculture Ministry, Heirs Holdings in November established an electronic warehousing system linking farmers and traders as part of the groundwork to set up a commodities exchange.

“We have a number of both domestic players and international players who are very interested,” Oteh said. “They’d rather acquire the privatized exchange, so they’re trying to see how far the government is going with this initiative and if not they’re prepared to seek a registration for a new commodity exchange.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Kay in Abuja at ckay5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vernon Wessels at vwessels@bloomberg.net

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