The Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX) launched its mutual funds listing facility earlier this week. The listing facility is targeted at meeting the needs of international investors who may require the extra visibility afforded by a listing on an established securities exchange as a basis for their choice of investment vehicle.

There is a substantial offshore funds industry based in The Bahamas, with some 600 mutual funds based here, valued at around $100 billion.

BISX CEO Gerry Ritchie comments, “BISX has been working closely with the Bahamian service providers in the mutual funds industry to align its facilities with their business development objectives. The listing facility provides an additional element to their services already offered in the growing and highly competitive offshore funds industry, and a catalyst to the ambitions of the Bahamian funds industry within that sector.”

Role of BISX Sponsors

BISX will provide for primary and secondary listing of Bahamian regulated and overseas regulated mutual funds, sponsored by specialist members of the Exchange. Gerry Ritchie adds: “The use of BISX sponsors is central to the development of a successful listing facility. Sponsor firms, likely to be from the licensed mutual fund administrators, legal and accountancy professions, will be required to meet BISX eligibility requirements to enable them to act as sponsors to the listing of their mutual fund clients on the Exchange. We see the addition of a BISX listing facility in the jurisdiction as a further opportunity for Bahamian service providers to pro-actively market the listing facilities of BISX as a means of expanding their overall business”.

More detailed information on sponsors’ eligibility and application procedures and copies of the BISX listing rules for mutual funds may be obtained from BISX.

Listing rules

An industry consultation on the BISX listing rules for mutual funds has already been completed, enjoying a high level of participation from the mutual fund administrators sector, lawyers and accountants. The listing rules have been approved by The Securities Commission of The Bahamas, the supervisory authority of BISX under the Securities Industry Act, 1999.

Distinct features of the rules are:

-A close fit with mutual funds legislation and regulations;

-Recognition of previously published offering documents as part of the listing disclosure documents, thus avoiding excessive expense to issuers in advisory fees;

-Congruence with generally accepted international listing standards; and

-Recognition of existing regulatory registrations and licenses.

BISX Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, Keith Davies comments: “The analytical and consultative work we have undertaken with the mutual funds industry on formulating the rules for the listing of mutual funds provides BISX with a solid foundation for launching this new product. In particular the close liaison with the industry representatives allows us to competitively position this product internationally, within a regulatory context that adheres to generally accepted international regulatory and disclosure standards.”

Competitive positioning and quality of service

To meet the demands of mutual fund operators and its sponsor-users, BISX has established a user-friendly, fast-track listing service to ensure the highest quality of listing service for all its listing products is achieved. Listing fees have been set to position BISX and the Bahamian service providers competitively in relation to the costs in other financial centers.

Ideally, BISX and its sponsor-users would wish to offer a full listings service utilizing the Internet. As soon as Bahamian legislation facilitating E-Commerce, currently being devised by the Government in close consultation with the E-Commerce service providers and the financial industry, is enacted, and digital signatures are recognized, BISX will be aiming to leap-frog developments elsewhere.

Marketing focus

BISX will market the advantages of listing funds on BISX to the investment community internationally, and continue to work with the Bahamas Financial Services Board to place itself in the vanguard of the ever-growing and diverse range of financial services available to international investors in The Bahamas.

Ian Fair, BISX Chairman comments: “The launching of the BISX listing facility for mutual funds marks a further milestone in the development of the Exchange. BISX will be continuing to extend its facilities in both the domestic and international sectors to ensure that the Exchange is able to contribute fully to the continued emergence of the capital market as a dynamic for growth within our economy, and also to provide a platform for the enhancement of our services offered to the international investment community from The Bahamas.”

The Bahamas International Securities Exchange was incorporated in September 1999. BISX raised its initial capital by way of a private placement of securities from broker-dealers, financial institutions and other business and private investors.

The domestic equity market catering for the trading in Bahamian public companies was launched on 12 May 2000 with two broker-dealer members of the Exchange and 9 listed companies participating.

Currently 16 Bahamian public companies are listed representing a market capitalisation of over US$1.8 billon. The local market averages over 250 trades a month. Daily prices are posted on BISX’s website (see url below) and in local newspapers.

Contact BISX at:

The Bahamas International Securities Exchange
Windermere House
404 East Bay Street
P.O. Box EE-15672
Nassau, Bahamas

Tel: + 242 323 2330
Fax: + 242 323 2320