The government and a South Korean firm signed a joint-venture agreement Monday to operate Cambodia’s forthcoming stock exchange, but officials were noncommittal about a launch date.
The deal with Korea Exchange, the operator of South Korea’s exchange, will give the government 55 percent control and the Korea Exchange 45 percent control of the stock market, Finance Ministry Secretary-General Hang Chuon Naron said at the launch ceremony.
“We have to work very hard to establish confidence and we have to convince companies to join the stock market and that also takes time,” Hang Chuon Naron said. “We will decide later on when we will launch. We will decide based on the reality on the ground,” he said, adding that if the bourse is not launched as scheduled in December this year, it could open in 2010.
In-pyo Lee, the Phnom Penh based project manager for the Korea Exchange, said the target launch is still in December but that could change.
Jung-hwan Lee, CEO of the Korea Exchange, acknowledged that the global financial crisis will prevent a clear vision of the future, but said that starting the exchange during the crisis could help the bourse’s prospects.
“Opening the stock exchange in this global economic depression will allow Cambodia more time to build a complete, well-functioning stock market when the global economy [has] recovered,” he said.
The Korean stock exchange helped Korea recover quickly from the Asian financial crisis in 1997, breathing foreign capital into the economy, he added.
Finance Minister Keat Chhon declined to say if the stock exchange would open in December.
“We set our road map already. We have to move forward,” he said, but added: “There is the warning of our Prime Minister. We will not create something that will die two days later.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen said in February that the exchange may be postponed due to the economic crisis.