Economy

Did Zenith Bank leave capital market over domestic debt exchange program?

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced Zenith Bank’s decision to voluntarily leave the capital markets.

The bank becomes the first to leave the stock market after government announced last year its controversial policy –domestic debt exchange–that seeks to restore debt and financial sustainability.

According to the SEC, Zenith Bank is no longer required to carry out trustee functions for the securities sector.

“Zenith Bank Ghana Limited, a licenced trustee that engaged in trustee services in the securities industry and capital market, has voluntarily requested to suspend operations,” the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced in a statement.

“The SEC has, after a thorough assessment of the circumstances, approved the voluntary cessation of business of Zenith Bank Ghana Limited as a licensed Trustee. Zenith Bank Ghana Limited. is no longer mandated to carry out any Trustee activities within the securities industry,” it added.

SEC continued, “all investors, market operators, and the general and investing public are hereby assured that the SEC is committed to ensuring rigorous enforcement of all the rules for operators in the capital market in order to promote the growth and development of an efficient, fair and transparent securities market in which investors and the integrity of the market are protected.”

Ghana, which is going through its worst economic crisis in a generation, in December last year launched a plan to exchange its local bonds for new ones with fresh maturity dates and coupon rates to help restore macroeconomic stability.

But some groups representing the financial institutions that hold Ghana’s debt have raised concerns that the restructuring as presented by the finance ministry would not work.

Parliament’s Ranking on Finance, Dr. Ato Forson has disclosed that about five banks are likely to go bust following government’s impending domestic debt exchange programme (DDE) if the latter fails to engage further.

Speaking to journalists during a minority press conference on DDE on Monday at parliament house, he cautioned government to engage extensively or things could get to its head.

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