Cambodian Students Trade Their Way to Regional Success

Two Cambodian students have defied expectations in the country’s debut showing at a regional stock trading competition, achieving the second-highest score ahead of nearly 2,000 other teams, it was announced Tuesday.

A total of 1,972 university teams from Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand took part in the fifth annual CIMB ASEAN Stock Challenge via a simulated trading program of the countries’ bourses—with the exception of the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX). A team from Malaysia achieved the top score.

Despite having only Cambodia’s fledgling exchange, which has just two listings, to look to for inspiration, a duo from Zaman University in Phnom Penh managed to turn their virtual capital of $80,000 into $151,488.88 over the course of three weeks.

By nearly doubling their capital, Lymeng Chhim, 21, and Savannarong Koek, 20, who called themselves “Team Dark Rangers,” scooped the Cambodian national prize of $800.

The top teams from each nation will now travel to Thailand on January 19 to compete in a grand final contest, where they will present their trading strategy to a panel of judges. The overall winners will take home $12,000 in cash.

Lee Ihnsoo, chief operating officer of the CSX, said he was surprised at the strong performance of the Cambodian pair, who were up against teams from countries with much larger and more well-established bourses.

“To be frank with you, we did not expect our Cambodian teams would beat the best teams from other countries which have much longer…market history,” he told the audience at Tuesday’s awards ceremony.

“We just expected the competition would give them more experience. But when we saw the result we were so surprised…. It is an amazing achievement.”

Mr. Lee added that he hoped the competition would raise the profile of Cambodia’s stock exchange, for which he said “public awareness is a very challenging mission.”

Following the announcement, Mr. Chhim, an information management student, said he entered the competition to learn how a bourse works because there is little opportunity to trade in Cambodian stocks.

“We looked at the historical trend, volume and past performance of the stocks to see if there was any demand in the stocks,” he said.

Mr. Chhim said despite the pair’s nervousness in gambling with large sums of cash, even for fun, the competition has sparked an interest in real-life trading. But for Cambodia’s bourse to attract trading, Mr. Chhim added, it first needs to expand.

“[Cambodia’s stock exchange] is starting but…it’s still too small. More companies need to join,” he said.

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