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Bahamas: Country and Foreign Investment

International Stock Exchange

In May 2000, the Bahamas' new, privately owned stock exchange (BISX) went live, originally with 2 established brokers. By December, 2005, it had 19 companies listed with a total of $2.6 billion in market capitalisation. Due to the exchange's losses of $2.3 in the two years up to June 2002, shareholders invested sums of $125,000 in order to keep the company afloat.

Former Minister of State for Finance, Senator James Smith then appointed a team of financial experts to investigate the exchange's financial needs. The BISX has an upgraded infrastructure from which remote trading across a secure private WAN and the launch of an international segment can take place.

In November, 2003, BISX gained affiliate membership of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). Commenting on the achievement, Mr. Ian Fair, BISX's Chairman stated, "This is a significant achievement for BISX given that this is only our third year of operation. IOSCO sets the global standard for proper securities regulation, therefore, based on the fact that the Securities Commission of The Bahamas is already an Ordinary Member of IOSCO and the fact that BISX maintains Rules and operating procedures which are acceptable to IOSCO, speaks volumes for our place in the greater world community."

In November, 2004, shares in the Bank of Bahamas Limited began trading on the Bahamas International Stock Exchange, taking the total of listed issuers trading on the BISX to 19.

In February, 2005, the Securities Commission of the Bahamas announced its approval of an increase in the fee for a Domestic Primary Equity Listing on the Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX) from $2,500 to $5,000.

In January 2007, mutual fund management giant Fidelity listed its Fidelity Prime Income Fund Limited on the Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX), underscoring the growing popularity of the BISX's mutual fund listing facility. The Prime Income Fund was the second fund that Fidelity had listed with the BISX.

The following month, the BISX announced that Credit Suisse Wealth Management Limited had been approved as a BISX Sponsor Member for the listing of mutual funds on the exchange. Simultaneously with its application for Sponsor Membership, Credit Suisse submitted an application to list the Protection Strategy Fund Limited SAC and its three classes of shares on the BISX mutual fund listing facility. The Protection Strategy Fund Limited SAC became the twelfth mutual fund to list on BISX. An additional sponsor member, FG Capital Markets Limited, was added in March 2008, taking the total number of sponsor members at that time to 5.

The BISX ended 2007 on a high note in terms of new listings, announcing that four funds had listed in December as part of the Central Bank's Exchange Control Liberalization Program, which was designed to ease and enhance the international investment opportunities for Bahamian residents. The funds included: The Fidelity Bahamas International Investment Fund Class N-Series 1 (IIF-N1); The CFAL Global Bond Fund (GBF); The CFAL Global Equity Fund (GEF); and The CFAL High Grade Bond Fund (HGF).

Funds listed in 2008 included the RP Hedge Fund and the Royal Fidelity International Investment Fund Limited, Class A Equities Sub Fund. This latter fund, which also took place as a result of the Exchange Control Liberalization Program, was the 11th fund listing since December 2007.

For the year ending 31 December 2012, the BISX All Share Index was down 18.73points or 1.37% , closing at 1,346.26. Compared to the same period in 2011, average daily trading volumes had increased from the previous year's total from 11,451 to 16,146. The average daily trading value in 2012 was USD74,433 compared to USD59,674 in 2011.

In April 2007, the BISX announced the publication of its new draft rules for Listing and Continuing Obligations requirements for issuers listed on the Exchange. A four-week consultation with the finance industry on the new rules ended on May 11, 2007.

Commenting on the proposed changes, Keith Davies, BISX Chief Executive Officer, said: "This is the first major amendment to the BISX Rules since their approval and publication in 2000. It was important for us to address these rules first as they form the basis of our primary trading market, and it is an important step in the development of our market as a whole, as we try to keep pace with the changes that are taking place in our market."

In June 2008, the BISX announced the imminent launch of a new initiative with a targeted consortium of global financial services companies to create a new platform focused on opportunities in the international capital markets. The joint venture, named BISX Global, marries product development teams and investment product specialists from around the globe with one of the world's leading financial jurisdictions.

BISX Global promises to capitalize on the increased benefits of independently priced and listed products in an environment that delivers significant tax and regulatory advantages.

According to the exchange, BISX Global will provide the right expertise and support to transform the Bahamas International Securities Exchange from a primarily domestically focused exchange into a premier meeting place for global products and international capital.

BISX Global will be a joint initiative between the BISX and a number of international investment banks, the identities of which were to be revealed in the latter half of 2008.

In mid 2008, the BISX announced that Phoenix Four Inc. had successfully completed the BISX Mutual Fund Listing Process and had been added to the roster of funds listed on the exchange. Phoenix Four Inc became the 23rd mutual fund listing on the exchange and the third international listing since December 2007.

The BISX All Share Index closed 2008 at 1712.36, which represented a year to date decrease of 354.39 points or 17.15%. As at December 31, 2008 the market was comprised of 24 primary market listings with a market capitalization of USD3.03bn. The primary market securities traded over BISX include 19 common share listings, 1 preference share listing and 4 tranches of debt.

Trading volume in 2008 amounted to 9,623,219 shares for a value of USD71,553,200. This compares to 2007 when 4,770,270 shares changed hands for a trade value of USD28,255,500.



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