THE JSE intends opening its first office outside of its Johannesburg headquarters, joining major institutional fund managers and brokerage firms in Cape Town.

Africa’s largest exchange said it had secured a prime spot in Claremont in the southern suburbs, where institutional houses such as Coronation, Allan Gray and the Association for Savings and Investment SA are located.

JSE capital markets director Donna Oosthuyse said the decision to open an office in Cape Town was taken to have a dedicated team on the ground whose focus would be to deal with customer-service problems more efficiently and to better understand client needs. It would also facilitate innovation.

A Cape Town-based fund manager, who asked not to be named, saw the move as more of a defence play in light of new players wanting to establish competing stock markets.

"The sceptic in me believes the JSE is more concerned about new competition than it is publicly acknowledging," he said, adding that the JSE had not maintained good relations with some of its clients and that by opening an office in Cape Town, it was trying make up.

At least two companies are known to have applied to the Financial Services Board for stock exchange licences. They are 4 Africa Exchange, A2X and ZAR X.

Vunani Fund Managers analyst Johan de Kock said that with electronic trading, it would not make any difference where the JSE was based.

However, the Cape Town office would be good for the investor community, especially with the fund-management industry based in the country’s second-largest economic hub.

Senior capital markets specialist Maryke Vreulink will head the JSE in Cape Town.