JSE
Photo: Elvira Wood
  • Foreigners have been buying resource shares, but reduced their exposure to local retail and telecom shares, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research report.
  • Clicks and Telkom were the main exceptions, and their international ownership expanded.
  • Global investors now own 52% of the JSE – but only 46% of South African-focused shares (which exclude dual-listed companies).
  • For more, go to Business Insider SA.

Foreigners now own 52% of JSE, which is slightly more (half a percentage point) than a year ago, according to a new Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research report.

But if shares listed on other exchanges – like BHP Billiton and Richemont – are excluded, foreign investors owned only 46% of domestic shares, down from 48% last year. 

New numbers from the JSE show that foreigners were net sellers of South Africa equities to the tune of almost R5 billion from the start of April to the first week of May. In the three days before the national and provincial elections alone, they were net sellers of R3 billion in shares.

Read: Foreigners dumped billions in South African bonds in the days before the elections – but now they are piling back in

Some 62% of mining shares on the JSE are now in foreign hands, and overseas investors have increased their mining holdings over the past year, particularly in platinum and gold companies, except for Harmony.

Foreigner's exposure to local financial shares (37%) and industrials (54%) is much lower, and they have been selling stakes in South African-focused companies over the past year, particularly telecom and retail shares.

Source: BofA Merrill Lynch South Africa Strategy,
Source: BofA Merrill Lynch South Africa Strategy, STRATE (01 March 2019)

The BofAML report shows that foreign investors sold Vodacom and MTN, but were net buyers of Telkom in the past year.

They also sold bought Clicks shares – but sold Woolworths, Massmart, Foschini, Truworths, Dis-Chem, Shoprite and Spar. Foreigners were also net buyers of of Reunert and Reinet, the property shares Resilient and Intu, and added to holdings in Capitec.

Foreign holdings in Naspers – which represents a fifth of the bourse – has fallen from 65% in 2016 to 62%.

The top five foreign-owned stocks are now Richemont, BHP, Gold Fields, Harmony, and Anglo Gold.

And of the more domestic names, Clicks, Lewis, Tiger Brands, Discovery and Telkom have the highest foreign holdings.

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