Athens, 2 October 2018 – The World Federation of Exchanges ("WFE"), the global industry group for exchanges and CCPs, has today published a report (together with a supplementary dataset) entitled 'An overview of WFE SME markets', examining the current status of 33 SME markets across 29 WFE member exchanges.

WFE member exchanges have long recognised the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the economies in which they operate. To support the growth and development of these firms, many stock exchanges have established dedicated SME markets or trading segments that cater for these companies. Today's report builds on previous research into these SME markets and initiatives, which was undertaken by the WFE and the World Bank in 2015 and 2016.

Key highlights from today's report include:

  • As at end 2017, 6,807 companies were listed on 33 SME markets with a total market capitalisation of over USD1.3 trillion.
  • Over 12,000 companies have listed on these markets over their lifetime, raising a combined USD251 billion (based on data from 28 markets).
  • SME markets vary significantly in size - the number of companies listed on a single market ranged from less than 100 to over 1,000, while the average market capitalisation of these companies ranged from less than USD2 million to over USD100 million.
  • While the liquidity of SME platforms is definitely a challenge on some markets (in 40% of markets the turnover velocity was below 15%), this is not consistent across markets (six exchanges had turnover velocity rates of over 100%).
  • SME exchanges strive to find the balance between reducing direct and indirect costs to issuers and ensuring appropriate investor protection. While the market will often adjust both the initial and ongoing listing requirements and costs to take the specific needs of SMEs into consideration, they may also require the use of an advisor, or limit investment to more sophisticated investors.
  • All SME boards engage in market outreach to raise awareness of equity financing opportunities amongst target companies, and many provide additional dedicated support for these companies such as:
    • Creating a dedicated index for SME companies;
    • Ensuring research coverage of companies listed on SME markets;
    • Requiring or encouraging the use of market makers to enhance liquidity of SME stocks; and
    • Holding regular sessions on issues such as corporate governance, investor relations and broader financial literacy.

The number of SME platforms continues to increase with five new markets launched in 2017, and another in 2018.

Nandini Sukumar, CEO, WFE said: "This consolidated overview of WFE member efforts to enhance SME access to finance is an encouraging picture of the growth and development of SME-specific markets over the past few years. SMEs are a critical component of all thriving equity markets, therefore supporting and nurturing them today is an intrinsic part of building a sustainable economy for tomorrow."

Siobhan Cleary, Head of Research & Public Policy, WFE added: "Today's discussion at the WFE Working Committee on the topic of SME markets revealed the ongoing importance of the SME ecosystem. Discussants recognise that exchanges can't create this environment alone, and must work with all market participants to the benefit of SMEs overall. It is reassuring to see that every WFE member is focused on improving SME access to capital. We see our commitment to the growth and development of SMEs as part of the growth and development of the real economy."

Today's report was launched at the WFE's Working Committee meeting in Athens, which took place before the 58th WFE General Assembly & Annual Meeting starts on Wednesday 3 October. The two-day event, which will be hosted by Athens Stock Exchange, will see more than 300 delegates gather for the WFE Annual Meeting, with a public programme of 13 speeches and panel sessions, in addition to member-only sessions for the WFE Board and the Federation's 58th General Assembly.

The report was compiled by the WFE's SME's Working Group (SMEWG) and is based on quantitative and qualitative information of 33 SME markets (three in the Americas, 14 in the Asia-Pacific region and 16 in EMEA) at 29 exchanges across the globe. The WFE's SMEWG has 21 member exchanges from across all WFE geographies. Its ongoing mandate is to identify critical success factors for SME markets. Other research from the WFE's SMEWG includes a paper on family-owned businesses; a joint report with Milken Institute on SME exchanges; and another paper on exchange-based financing of SMEs.

You can read the full SME Markets report here, along with the ancillary database WFE SME Markets – Key Datapoints here.

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For more information, please contact:

Anna Watson
Head of Communications, The World Federation of Exchanges
Email: awatson@world-exchanges.org
Phone: +44 20 7151 4137 / +44 7850 287 685
Twitter: @TheWFE