Dubai-based Arqaam Capital has become the first Middle Eastern brokerage to join the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, from which the investment bank plans to expand its coverage of African stock markets in line with rapidly developing demand for ‘frontier assets’.

The emerging markets investment bank currently covers 42 African companies and plans to increase that to 125 firms by the end of the year, by additionally focusing on Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria, according to Arqaam CEO Riad Meliti in a joint statement in Johannesburg.

The CEO noted that the bank was delighted to enter the South African market, and for Arqaam to be able to offers exposure to its 700 investors across mature and MENA markets.

He added: “Arqaam Capital will not only be looking at the public markets but also diverting liquidity into private equity. We feel there is not enough venture capital liquidity available in the market place for the number of opportunities that are being presented.”

Leanne Parsons, director of the JSE’s equity market, noted that Arqaam Capital was well respected for its successful track record across North Africa and the Middle East, and that the move will inspire greater confidence by demonstrating Africa’s appetite for investment.

She said: “We see their membership as another step in strengthening the JSE’s relationships with financial market players in other emerging markets,” adding that the JSE and Arqaam might also consider new initiatives in selected markets in the MENA and other regions.

JSE’s stated aim is to act as the investment bridge to African opportunities whilst providing its listed companies with access to capital from a wider pool of international investors.