The news that Afrox is to be delisted from the JSE has been accompanied by much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Of course, it is sad to see one of South Africa’s last remaining industrial stalwarts leave the exchange after 54 years.
The Afrox announcement follows the delisting of Intu Properties and Grit Real Estate in the second half of 2020 (the woes of the property sector) and could presage the delisting of Metrofile, which is still being circled by US private equity firm Housatonic despite that it is not trading under a cautionary at the moment.
Heavy-equipment company Barloworld is being stalked by Saudi Arabian group Zahid Tractor & Heavy Machinery, which is now a significant minority. And MultiChoice could be in the crosshairs of French media group Canal+, which has acquired a sizeable stake in the pay-TV firm.
While delistings are painful, the reality is that none of this is new. The number of companies listed on the JSE has almost halved from 600 in 2001 to fewer than 350. The same is happening in the US and UK, which have experienced a similar quantum of delistings since the mid-1990s.