The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) will sell up to a 38 percent stake in an initial public offering by the end of next month to raise funds for new products and enhance transparency, its chief executive said.
Peter Mwangi said the owners of the Kenyan bourse, a mutual company held by brokers, will offer up to 81 million shares of 4 shillings ($0.05) each, amounting to 38 percent of its total capitalisation, subject to regulatory approval.
However, the actual offer price will be set by the IPO advisers at a later date.
"We want to list through an IPO (initial public offer) on the main market. We need to open this listing before the 30th of June," he told Reuters.
"That conversion from a private to a public company will position us to be a very effective player."
Sub-Saharan African capital markets have been attracting rising investment from outside the continent as investors chase higher returns.
"We are playing in a sweet spot where the frontier funds think Africa is rising. East Africa is a hot spot on the African map and we are the gateway into that east African region," Mwangi said.
Regional integration has been driving expansion among locally listed firms and the discovery of oil and gas across east Africa in recent years has also bolstered investor confidence.
NSE's pretax profit more than doubled to 379 million shillings last year from 2012, lifted by a surge in trading turnover after the country's presidential election passed off peacefully in March.
Mwangi said part of the funds raised in the offer will be used to bankroll new products like derivatives, exchange-traded funds and Sharia-compliant indexes.
Plans to offer currency and interest rates futures and options were at an advanced stage with the regulator Capital Markets Authority perusing them for a final approval.
"We are seeing more and more international investors who might want to invest in Kenya and they might want to hedge the currency risk," the chief executive said.
Kenyan banks offer foreign exchange forward contracts, which are negotiated directly with buyers, but they cannot be traded.
The NSE futures market will offer standardised contracts for currency futures that will be traded.
Mwangi said they wanted to attract more listings on the NSE's Growth Enterprise Market (GEMS) which is aimed at small firms wishing to list their shares.
Only one firm, property developer Home Afrika, is listed on GEMS and the NSE hopes it will pull in more through easier listing terms like requiring business owners, mainly families reluctant to lose control of their businesses, to offer a minimum of 15 percent shares on the market.
"With 85 percent you have effective control of your company but you enjoy all the advantages of being listed. We are in a sense offering the best of both worlds," Mwangi said.