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Ministry to retire head of first listed company

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Ek Sonn Chan, general director of Phnom Penh Water Supply, shakes hands at the opening of the Cambodia Securities Exchange. Photograph: Hong Menea /Phnom Penh Post

The Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy will retire the general director of Cambodia’s only listed company just a few months after its initial public offering, according to an unofficial letter from the ministry obtained late yesterday.

Ek Sonn Chan, general director of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA), will leave his post on July 1 after nearly 20 years on the job, according to the letter, signed by MIME minister Suy Sem.

Sim Sitha, the director of Sihanouk Water Supply, confirmed yesterday he would take the reins of the state-owned company, known for the clean book-keeping and high efficiency that helped put it on the Cambodia Securities Exchange.

“I received the letter from MIME last week. But the time has not come for me to say anything yet. I don’t want there to be a misunderstanding,” Sim Sitha said yesterday when reached by phone.

Ek Sonn Chan declined to comment.

PPWSA, Cambodia’s only listed company, floated a 15 per cent stake in mid-April.

After a strong opening followed by a slow decline, shares in the company closed yesterday at US$1.56, about $0.01 above its IPO price.

The government and corporate Cambodia have lauded Ek Sonn Chan as the driving force that saw the company ranked among the world’s leading water suppliers.

“Under his leadership, PPWSA has been completely transformed,” a disclosure document for the company’s IPO stated.

According to the ministry’s letter, Ek Sonn Chan was due to retire in 2010.

MIME, however, requested a two-year extension on his position, which Prime Minister Hun Sen and King Sihamoni approved.

The letter indicates Sim Sitha’s takeover was essential to the future of the company.

“PPWSA is in a transitional period as it steps on to the stock market. The capacity and the . . . special characteristics [of Sim Sitha] are a must to ensure the success of the entity in the future,” the MIME letter states.

To contact the reporters on this story: May Kunmakara at kunmakara.may@phnompenhpost.com
Don Weinland at don.weinland@phnompenhpost.com

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