4 May 2012

Stock exchange's future in trading commodities - Weldon

7:41 am on 4 May 2012

The departing boss of the stock exchange says the bourse's future is in trading commodities.

After a decade in the role, Mark Weldon will leave NZX a much stronger company in terms of earnings, by expanding its role into the agricultural sector, the futures trading market, and funds management.

His critics say he's not succeeded in attracting enough firms to list, though Mr Weldon points to recent successful listings of Summerset and Trade Me and the NZX's better record than the US market where listings have fallen by a third.

He says NZX is increasingly viewed internationally as a commodities house, and that may be more important than the equity market.

Mr Weldon says NZX has rivals, particularly Chicago, Germany and London which are all trying very hard in dairy.

He says in some ways New Zealand would be better off if there were two markets trading dairy rather, than just one, because it would allow investors to trade 24 hours a day.

Mr Weldon says NZX would welcome one more successful dairy franchise, but not more than one.

He says there's a chance that in five years NZX and the New Zealand capital market could be an agricultural commodity sub-index.

Mr Weldon says these are globally relevant products, whereas equities are not likely to interest people in places like China or Germany as investments because they can invest locally.

He says the size of the market for globally traded agricultural products is enormous and it could be very important for New Zealand.

Mr Weldon is hoping more of the country's firms will start listing next year, with new rules to revitalise capital markets.

He says the NZX is also readying itself to set up low-cost public markets that firms can use to grow, when Parliament passes legislation, probably next year.