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Cambodian students win out on ASEAN stock markets

Despite the Cambodian Stock Exchange (CSX) getting off to a sluggish start over the past three years, local university students are seemingly already on the way to becoming good stock-pickers.

The country winners of CIMB Bank’s ASEAN Stock Challenge 2014, a regional simulated stock trading competition, were announced yesterday in Phnom Penh.

The winners, two students from Zaman University who went by the team name of Dark Rangers, took home the $500 prize after almost doubling their virtual investments on ASEAN markets.

“We chose to invest in stocks listed on the Thai market,” said 21-year-old Ly Meng, one half of the Dark Rangers winning duo.

Thirty-two teams from Cambodian universities entered CIMB Bank’s annual competition. Each team is granted $80,000 of fake start-up capital to invest in ASEAN region markets over a period of three weeks. The team with the largest percentage increase at the end of the period is deemed to be the winner.

Dark Rangers finished out the three-week trading period with more than $151,000, up 89 per cent.

“I entered because I want to be a securities trader,” Meng said at yesterday’s winner’s announcement. “While Cambodia has a stock market, it is not very big yet, so I want to get involved in the development of the CSX.”

“At the moment, the CSX is difficult to trade on because there are not many companies, so there are really no options yet for a stock trader on a short-term basis,” he added.

This year marks the first time Cambodian universities have been included in CIMB Bank’s ASEAN Stock Challenge, which has run for the past five years and includes competitors from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.

Dark Rangers will now go on to compete in the regional final, which will be held on December 8 in Thailand, where judges will determine an overall winner based on each team’s investment strategies.

Seang Soleak, head of marketing at CIMB Bank said that the winning Cambodian team registered a greater percentage increase in capital than their counterparts in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

“Of course we hope the students will become traders in the future. The point of this is to build local talent, each country’s local market,” Soleak said, adding the winners will be offered an internship with either CIMB or the CSX.

“Sure, some of it is about taking risks, but it must also be a calculated risk assessment. Admittedly, I did not expect such a positive result from the Cambodian teams, considering the stock market here is quite nascent and new.”

Svay Hay, president and CEO of Acleda Securities (ACS), said the number of talented stock market professionals in Cambodia will increase as the CSX increases its listings.

The CSX has attracted two listings since the market was officially launched in July 2011.

“The growth of the stock market in [the] medium-term would attract appropriately qualified personnel,” he said, adding that Cambodian ACS traders are predominantly trained overseas after being recruited into the firm.

“But universities need to put in place initiatives to promote this kind of financial markets major to students in order to evolve alongside the CSX’s growth.”

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