Ministry Denies Stock Exchange Opening Put Off

The Cambodian stock exchange will open without delay this year de­spite the ongoing global financial crisis, a Finance Ministry official said Monday following a report that quoted him as saying economic un­certainty had put the bourse on hold “indefinitely.”

Mey Vann, director of the Fi­n­ance Ministry’s financial industry department, said by telephone that the financial crisis may cause some concern to companies that want to be listed, and to investors, but that the government is moving forward with its plans to launch the exchange.

“We did not declare postponement of the stock exchange. I am sure it will open in 2009,” Mey Vann said, though he declined to discuss an exact date.

“We are working on it and there is no delay,” he said, adding that he was misquoted in a Monday newspaper article that claimed the stock exchange had been shelved for the foreseeable future.

In-pyo Lee, the Phnom Penh-based project manager for Korea Exchange, also said Monday that everything is on schedule, and that Cambodia’s stock exchange will open in December.

The South Korean government’s exchange operator, Korea Exchange is Cambodia’s partner in establishing the new stock market.

“There is a possibility of delay, but so far everything is on schedule right now,” Lee said. Any delays will likely be on the government side or related to politics but not economics or global financial issues, he said.

The current financial crisis has, however, sparked apprehension among potential participants who are expected to be listed on the exchange, Lee said.

“They are just afraid of the financial crisis. I don’t think it’s going to affect the exchange. Most of the crisis comes from the banking [industry] and the bigger countries,” he said.

In February, the government and Korea Exchange plan to finalize an agreement over the operations of the stock exchange, giving Cambodia a 55 percent stake in the exchange, Lee added.

The first companies expected to join the exchange will be state-owned enterprises, such as the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port and the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority, he continued. Eventually local banks and other companies will join, Lee added.

Representatives of the port and water authority could not be reached for comment on Monday.

In Channy, president of Acleda Bank, said his company has always planned to join the exchange and will do so when the proper safeguards, such as laws to protect listed companies, are in place.

“It’s just a question of when it will happen,” he said.

Marvin Yeo, managing partner of the private equity fund Frontier Investment & Development Partners, said though his fund likely won’t list any investments on the exchange for several years, it’s important for the government to move forward with the exchange.

“They should continue their effort and try to build as strong an infrastructure for the stock exchange as possible,” he said.



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