The fortunes of a country’s equity or stock market are closely aligned with its economic well-being, and Malaysia is no exception. Similar to its global peers, Bursa Malaysia been enduring much turbulence in the last few years. Buffeted by strong external and internal headwinds, the market capitalisation of the local bourse had moderated further to RM1.74 trillion as at end-2022 (end-2021: RM1.79 trillion).

Profile of Malaysian Equity Market

Bursa Malaysia has the distinction of being among the biggest bourses in ASEAN with well over 900 listed companies. Investors can choose from a variety of listed products, including equities, derivatives, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), real estate investment trusts (REITs), and exchange traded bonds and sukuk (ETBS). Notably, 789 (81.2%) of the 972 listed entities on the local bourse were Shariah-compliant securities as at end-December 2022. These accounted for RM1.139 trillion or 65.6% of Bursa Malaysia’s overall market capitalisation as at the same date. Despite the tumultuous global markets, a total of RM26.0 billion was raised from the Malaysian equity market in 2022. Of this amount, RM3.5 billion originated from the primary market, i.e., via 35 initial public offering (IPOs). The other RM22.6 billion stemmed from secondary fundraising. The sturdier performance in 2022 was driven by a 52% y-o-y surge in IPOs and a 58% spike in secondary issuances.

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Three Types of Markets on Bursa Malaysia

Bursa Malaysia operates through three markets – the Main Market, the ACE Market and the LEAP Market. Each has a different set of listing criteria for aspiring candidates. The following represents some of the most salient points of the respective marketshe Main Market is the primary market for larger companies with strong operating and profit track records, with a minimum required market capitalisation of RM500 million upon listing, among other things.

In 2022, the Main Market hosted the listing of five companies while the ACE Market welcomed 25 and the LEAP Market contributed another five – bringing the total to 35 IPOS for the year. Together, these newly listed entities raised RM3.49 billion.

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Listing Process and Platforms

The listing process (from the time the candidate engages an adviser to the day of listing) usually takes four to nine months, depending on the structure and complexity of the listing scheme. Upon approval, the entity will be given six months to complete its IPO exercise.

Bursa Malaysia also offers an end-to-end Shariah-compliant investing platform, along with the world’s first end-to-end Shariah-compliant commodities-trading platform. In recognition of the importance of sustainable and responsible investment, Bursa Malaysia launched the FTSE4Good Index in 2014. This index permits investors to measure domestic companies’ performance based on ESG standards. In July 2021, the local bourse introduced the FTSE4Good Bursa Malaysia Shariah Index – the Shariah-compliant version of the former. This new index will assist fund managers to develop new investment products constituting a portfolio of Shariah-compliant equities, guided by sustainable investing principles.

Investor Profile

The Malaysian stock market benefits from a diverse pool of investors, underscored by sturdy support from local institutional and retail investors. Domestic institutions remained net sellers in 2022, to the tune of RM6.53 billion (2021: RM9.1 billion). Meanwhile, local retail investors infused RM2.31 billion of net funds into the equity market, which paled in comparison to the previous year’s RM12.2 billion. Interestingly, foreign investors pumped in RM4.40 billion net (2021: RM3.15 billion) after four consecutive years as net sellers. Against this backdrop, the participation rate of retail investors declined to an average of 25.7% in terms of transaction value, relative to 34.6% in 2021. Nonetheless, this is still higher than the five-year pre-pandemic average of 18.8%

Trading Procedures

To invest in shares in Malaysia, one must be over the age of 18, open a Central Depository System (CDS) account and a trading account at a stockbroking firm. There are specific steps to follow pursuant to this, as detailed on Bursa Malaysia’s website.

Regulatory System

The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) is the ultimate regulator of the Malaysian capital markets, including the equity market. As the front-line regulator, Bursa Malaysia, is tasked with safeguarding a fair and orderly market for the trading of securities and derivatives. The SC supervises and monitors Bursa Malaysia on listing, trading, clearing, settlement, and depository operations – to ensure the latter effectively performs its regulatory duties and obligations. Brokers and regulated entities must comply with the various rules set by Bursa Malaysia.