The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) on Friday announced that it had became the first self-listed capital market in South Asia.

The PSX completed the process of enlisting on the exchange a day earlier, on June 29, the bourse's Chief Executive Officer Haroon Askari said during an event held to announce the development at the exchange in Karachi.

Prior to the announcement, 40 per cent PSX shares had already been distributed to the original owners of the bourse ─ the 200-strong stockbroker fraternity.

As many as 30pc shares have been sold to a Chinese consortium comprising three Chinese exchanges — China Financial Futures Exchange Company Limited (lead bidder), Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

Two local financial institutions — the Pak-China Investment Company Limited and Habib Bank Limited — have been sold a 5pc share each.

The PSX recently sold 20pc shares of the bourse to the public in an Initial Public Offering.

Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq Hijazi in a statement read out over video link said he was proud of the PSX for acquiring the status of the first self-listed stock market in the region.

"My vision is to make Pakistan an investment hub. I hope all stakeholders will work jointly to ensure progress and development of the country and PSX," Hijazi said in his statement.

'Easing regulations on divestment'

Arif Habib, a prominent figure among the business community ─ and lead consultant for the PSX divestment process ─ called for an easing of regulations regarding the divestment of PSX shares.

Habib dismissed the impression that the PSX was being divested to Chinese investors and called for greater opportunities for foreign investors to invest in the exchange.

Shedding light on milestones hit by the bourse ─ such as the unification of multiple exchanges and the acquisition of the title of emerging market ─ Habib said that the market possesses immense potential for future growth and urged investors around the globe to put their trust in the PSX.

Governor Sindh Muhammad Zubair, who was also present at the event, was also of the opinion that foreign investors should be permitted to invest in PSX shares.

"Either foreigner investors should be restrained from buying any stocks or they should be allowed to buy PSX shares," Zubair said, adding that he agreed with Habib's suggestion and believed it would be appropriate if foreigners were permitted to invest in PSX shares.

The governor, however, clarified his stance regarding non-tax filers, saying that he was against inclusion of non-taxpayers in any type of investment options.

He recalled that the stock exchange had been quite resilient despite Karachi's historically grim security situation. "The market used to climb 300 points despite 20 killings in one day. It used to move upwards even on a day when the entire city was facing curfew."

The governor said that the prevailing negativity in the stock market coinciding with a probe into Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family shows fear in the business community regarding the investigation into the Panama Papers case. He, however, was of the opinion that the government would not go anywhere. "Nothing is going to happen on July 10. A committee is just going to submit it's report," he said.

Speaking at a lighter note, Zubair said, "The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) is enlisting companies at such a fast pace that I fear one day it will also enlist our cricket team."

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