The Nigerian technology ecosystem has grown astronomically over years, with startups and technology companies springing up across the country. In recent times, however, factors such as the current economic downturn have made it difficult for these companies to raise funds through traditional channels such as angel investment and venture capital. In view of this, the introduction of the Technology Board (the "Tech Board") by the Nigerian Exchange Limited (the "Exchange") presents a unique opportunity for tech companies to access capital from the public.
In this newsletter, we will be discussing the factors technology companies should consider before listing on the Tech Board as well as the potential benefits and challenges of such listing.
1. LISTING ON THE TECHNOLOGY BOARD
The Tech Board is designed specifically to cater to the needs of technology companies, providing a platform for them to access capital and investors. One of the key benefits of the Tech Board is that it offers technology companies an alternative listing venue to the traditional boards (main, premium and growth board) of the Exchange. Unlike the traditional boards, which have stringent listing requirements that may be difficult for some technology companies to fulfill, the Tech Board has a more flexible listing process that takes into account the unique characteristics of tech companies.
2. FACTORS TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES SHOULD CONSIDER BEFORE LISTING ON THE TECH BOARD
i. Listing Eligibility Requirements: Technology companies seeking to raise capital through the Exchange may be listed on either the start-up tech or big tech segment of the Tech Board. The start-up tech segment requires a market capitalization of at least US$1 million and a maximum of US$100 million, while the big tech segment requires a market capitalization of over US$100 million to US$1 billion. Additionally, the company must be a public company limited by shares. Please see our previous newsletter, "Fundraising Opportunities by Listing on the Technology Board of NGX," for more information on eligibility criteria and other necessary details for technology companies interested in listing on the Tech Board.
ii. Financial Readiness: The company should have a strong financial foundation with consistent revenue streams, profits, and positive cash flow.
iii. Market Conditions and Timing: The overall state of the market should be assessed to determine if it is favorable for a listing. The timing of a listing can affect the valuation of a company and its ability to attract investors, making it a critical factor for tech companies to consider.
iv. Valuation: A company's valuation represents its worth in the eyes of investors and is a critical factor that determines the company's ability to raise capital. Before listing, a company must conduct a thorough valuation of its assets, including intellectual property, brand value, and projected earnings, to determine its share price. A well-conducted valuation ensures that the company is not overvalued or undervalued.
v. Investor Demand: Investor demand is an important factor for tech companies to consider before listing on the exchange because it directly affects the success of the listing. The company needs to assess if there is enough demand from potential investors to support the listing. If investor demand is strong, the company may be able to achieve a higher valuation and raise more capital through the IPO. On the other hand, if investor demand is weak, the company may struggle to attract investors and may have to settle for a lower valuation and raise less capital.
vi. Corporate Governance: Corporate governance is a crucial factor for technology companies to consider before listing on the Tech Board. Strong corporate governance practices help to ensure transparency, accountability, and fairness in the management of a company. This includes having a clear organizational structure, an independent and diverse board of directors, and well-defined policies and procedures for decision-making, risk management, and ethical conduct. Good corporate governance practices can help to build investor confidence, increase access to capital, and reduce the risk of legal and reputational issues. Therefore, technology companies need to consider their corporate governance practices and ensure that they meet the standards required by the Exchange and regulatory bodies.
vii. Legal Considerations: The companies should ensure that they comply with all the relevant laws and regulations, as well as the listing requirements of the Exchange. This can include compliance with securities laws, intellectual property laws, data privacy regulations, and other relevant laws and regulations. Failure to comply with legal requirements can result in legal action, reputational damage, and financial penalties, which can be detrimental to the success of the company's listing.
3. POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF LISTING ON THE TECH BOARD
Technology companies are often on the cutting edge of innovation, developing new products and services that have the potential to change the world. However, turning these innovative ideas into a successful business often requires significant amounts of capital, access to which can be challenging. Some of the potential benefits of listing on the Tech Board include:
i. Access to Capital: One of the primary benefits of listing on the stock exchange is access to capital. By listing on the Exchange, technology companies can raise funds to expand their operations and develop new products or services, by issuing new shares to investors.
ii. Increased Visibility and Credibility: Listing on the Exchange increases a technology company's visibility and credibility in the eyes of potential customers, partners, and investors. A listed company is perceived as being more established, reputable, and reliable.
iii. Diversification of Investor Base: By listing on the stock exchange, technology companies can diversify their investor base and attract new investors interested in investing in publicly-traded companies. This will help to reduce the company's reliance on a small group of investors. A diverse investor base can also provide the company with access to a wider range of expertise, contacts, and resources, which can help to support its growth and development.
iv. Improved Corporate Governance: Listing on the Exchange requires tech companies to comply with certain regulations and corporate governance standards. This can help to improve the company's management practices and increase its transparency, which can lead to increased investor confidence.
4. POTENTIAL CHALLENGES TO CONSIDER
Listing on the Tech Board presents many benefits for technology companies, but it is not without its risks and challenges. There is the risk of market volatility and fluctuations, which can impact the company's share price and investor sentiment. Another major risk is the potential for regulatory and compliance challenges, as the listing requirements are dynamic and may require ongoing maintenance. Additionally, listing on the Tech Board may subject the company to greater scrutiny and expectations from investors and the public, which can result in added pressure and scrutiny on the company's operations and financial performance.
Technology companies should thoroughly evaluate the decision to get listed on the Tech Board, taking into account the distinct features and nuances of their business. Going public can be a major milestone, but it comes with its own set of challenges and risks. It is therefore crucial that Technology companies engage the services of professionals like financial advisors, legal experts, and capital market experts who can provide guidance and support throughout the listing process.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.