Stock Exchange suspends trading on AG Leventis Nigeria

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) at the weekend suspended trading in the shares of AG Leventis Nigeria Plc as one of the oldest companies at the stock market seeks to buy out minority shareholders and revert to private limited liability status.

Authorities at the Exchange stated that the full suspension placed on AG Leventis Nigeria was sequel to a request by stockbroker to AG Leventis. Full suspension implies that there will be neither trading nor movement of the share price as against technical suspension that allows trading without price movement.

The full suspension will prevent further trading in the shares of AG Leventis in order to determine the shareholders that will qualify to receive the scheme consideration from the scheme of arrangement between majority core investor in AG Leventis and minority shareholders .

The Leventis family, which remains the majority core investor in the conglomerate with some 88 per cent controlling shareholding, is seeking to buy out minority shareholders in order to implement a turnaround programme. AG Leventis has some 30,000 minority shareholders.

One of Nigeria’s oldest and largest conglomerates, AG Leventis, was incorporated in Nigeria as a private limited liability company in 1952 and was converted to a public limited liability company and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1978. At the last count, the AG Leventis Group consists of eight subsidiaries, three associates and three Joint Ventures, all of which were incorporated in Nigeria.

The group’s operations span the wide gamut of the economy from foods and beverages to automobile, real estate, hotel, general trade and merchandise.

AG Leventis has been under regulatory watch-list for failing to meet the minimum free float requirement for its listing category. The company has a free float of 11.64 per cent, 8.36 per cent below the 20 per cent free float for companies listed on the main board.

Free float, otherwise known as public float, refers to the number of shares of a quoted company held by ordinary shareholders other than those directly or indirectly held by its parent, subsidiary or associate companies or any subsidiaries or associates of its parent company; its directors who are holding office as directors of the entity and their close family members and any single individual or institutional shareholder holding a statutorily significant stake, which is 5.0 per cent and above in Nigeria.

Thus, free float’s shares do not include shares held directly or indirectly by any officer, director, controlling shareholder or other concentrated, affiliated or family holdings.

Companies listed on the Exchange are required to maintain a minimum free float for the set standards under which they are listed in order to ensure that there is an orderly and liquid market in their securities.

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