By Nkiruka Nnorom
Domestic retail investors have commended the decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, to initiate rules that will facilitate transmission of investments of a deceased shareholder to the next-of-kin, saying that it will further reduce the incidence of unclaimed dividends currently put at over N100 billion in the market.
Part of the challenges and drawbacks to investing in equities market has been that of transmission of shares from one investor to another and claiming of investments of a deceased investor by the family members. Transmission of shares occurs when the shares of a deceased shareholder are inherited or bequeathed to an heir or personal representative of the deceased shareholder. It takes place in case of death, insanity or insolvency of a member or, where the member is a company, on its liquidation.
According to the SEC, it has come up with a two-pronged approach to address the intractable challenges associated with share transmission, which involves developing rules that will stipulate the time-frame for the transfer as well as the fee structure.
The Commission also said it will engage probate registries around the country as part of the process with a view to enlighten them on the workings of the capital market and reduce the cumbersome process.
“We had meeting with registrars some time ago and a lot of them complained about the problem they had at the probate registries. So, we thought that in the same way that we have been engaging with judges when we have Judges Conference and we enlighten them about the workings of the capital market and importance of it, we thought that we should also extend the same measure to the probate registries around the nation so that capital market issues will be attended to as soon as possible”, said the Commission’s Acting Director General, Ms. Mary Uduk.
Commending the development, Moses Igbrude, General Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, ISAN, said that implementation of the rule would deepen the capital market and help to reduce unclaimed dividend. He advised that efforts should be made to ensure safety of the process in order not to transfer such shares to wrong people.
“It is a good development to hear that SEC is now alive to its responsibilities by looking into areas that were disincentive to the investing public and l hope their search light continues to beam on cloudy areas in the capital market,” said Gbadebo Olatokunbo, Co-Founder Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association, NSSA.
Mr. Patrick Ajudua, National Chairman, New Dimension Shareholders Association, NDSA, stated that the introduction would consolidate the success story of e-dividend mandate that has contributed to reduction in unclaimed dividend, adding that what is required is the formulation and amendment of existing laws for smooth implementation of the policy.