This guide is for intrepid investors who are wondering how to invest in stocks in Mauritius. Curious about investing in other frontier markets? Check out a list of our guides here.
Mauritius is an island nation of 1.2 million people located in the Indian Ocean, near Madagascar. Given its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, and rare flora and fauna, Mauritius is a tourist destination. It’s claim to fame was as the home of the dodo before it became extinct, but the dodo still makes an appearance on the national coat of arms.
Mauritius has a GDP per capita of over $15,000, making it a relatively wealthy country compared to its closest neighbours. While tourism is a large driver of the economy, Mauritius has also opened itself to foreign investment by being extremely progressive when it comes to tax and regulatory policies, especially for financial services. With a flat personal and corporate tax of 15% and strong rule of law, Mauritius is aiming to become an offshore financial hub for banks and shipping companies. As a tax haven, Mauritius is used to channel investments into other countries, and is the largest foreign investor in India among other countries. It currently has a Baa1 rating from Moody’s, a lower medium investment grade rating.
Mauritius is actively attracting foreign investment and offers residency permits in exchange for property investment. By purchasing property worth at least $500,000, foreigners can qualify for the permit. There are also no capital gains, dividends, or inheritance tax in Mauritius.
A Target For Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Investing?
As a collection of small islands and with a dependence on eco-tourism, climate change is a big issue for Mauritius. This is one of the reasons why the Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) has a Sustainability Index (SEMSI). The Index includes companies that are found to have sustainable practices and are compliant with ESG criteria.
ESG investing is a very hot topic at the moment so it is surprising to see a tiny frontier market like Mauritius take such an aggressive step in courting these investors. Criteria for inclusion into the index can be found here, and currently there are 13 companies included in SEMSI. However, there exists no concrete ESG criteria accepted by everyone, and the Mauritius Oil Refineries are included in SEMSI, so some additional research should be done rather than taking the index at face value.
Notable Companies in Mauritius:
- GML Group: the largest company in Mauritius, GML is a conglomerate with about 300 subsidiaries or portfolio companies. Companies span multiple industries including banks, hotel groups, food and beverage, and more.
- Ireland Blyth Ltd (IBL, listed): another large company in Mauritius with two main divisions: agro and building & engineering.
- Air Mauritius (listed): main airline for Mauritius and the fourth largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Serves flights to Europe, Asia, and other parts of Africa.
- Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB, listed): oldest and largest bank in Mauritius, offering both retail and commercial banking. Competes against larger foreign owned banks such as HSBC and Barclays which are also active in the country.
- Mauritius Telecom: the main telecommunications company in Mauritius, 40% owned by Orange although the branding is under their own brand now.
Is It Safe To Invest In Mauritius?
According to our Investment Safety Rankings, Mauritius is ranked #33 out of 192 countries on our list, making it a very safe country to invest in. It is the highest ranked country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a particularly strong Ease of Doing Business rank.
Can Foreigners Invest In Mauritius?
Yes, foreigners are allowed to invest in Mauritius, and a sizable enough property purchase (currently $500,000) will even give you residency there.
The only restrictions are that approval is required to take a controlling stake of a company, or to own more than 15% of a sugar company.
Stock Exchange of Mauritius Snapshot:
In operation since: 1989
Location: Port Louis, Mauritius
Market hours: 09:00 to 13:00
Currency: MUR or USD
Market Capitalization (as of August 2018): 269 billion MUR ($7.7 billion USD) in the Official Market, another 63 billion MUR ($1.8 billion USD) in the Development and Enterprise (DEM) market
Local Listed companies (as of Aug 2018): 107 listed stocks (61 on Official Market, 46 on DEM market) and 51 bonds/fixed income products (48 on Official Market, 3 on DEM). There are also 5 exchange-traded funds.
Taxes: Flat income tax of 15%, but no capital gains or dividends tax.
Foreign currency controls: none, repatriation of capital can be done without approval.
Main Index: SEMDEX, includes local shares in the Official Market (1YR chart below):
How the Stock Exchange of Mauritius is Structured:
The Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) is split into two main markets, the Official Market and the Development and Enterprise Market (DEM). Larger companies are in the Official Market, and can issue both equity or debt for listing on the exchange.
There are 8 different indices tracked by SEM:
- SEMDEX: the main index, comprising all local company Official Market shares
- SEM-ASI: the SEM All Share Index, includes depositary receipts on the Official Market
- SEMTRI: SEM Total Return Index, tracks performance of SEMDEX including reinvested dividends
- SEMTRI-ASI: same thing as SEMTRI but for the SEM-ASI
- SEM-10: the ten largest eligible shares of the Official Market by market cap and liquidity
- SEM-BI: the SEM Bond Index, includes debt products listed on both the Official Market and DEM.
- SEMVWAP: volume weighted average price of SEM-ASI
- SEMSI: the SEM Sustainability Index mentioned before
Dual currency trading was started in 2016 on international products, and there are products available in MUR, USD, GBP, EUR, and ZAR throughout the exchange.
How to Invest in the Stock Exchange of Mauritius:
To invest on the SEM, investors need to open a Central Depository & Settlement (CDS) account with an authorized investment dealer. The CDS account is where all shares are kept and are similar to a brokerage account.
There are currently 8 investment dealers approved by the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. The full list can be found here, but here are the 8 companies:
- Associated Brokers Ltd
- AXYS Stockbroking Ltd
- Capital Markets Brokers Ltd
- LCF Securities Ltd
- MCB Stockbrokers Ltd
- PSG Securities (Mauritius) Ltd
- SBM Securities Ltd
- Swan Securities Ltd
Fortunately, business is conducted mainly in English so there should be no issues for foreign investors.
Make sure to check out our other investing guides here!