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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Regulatory commission for stock exchange opens

Regulatory commission for stock exchange opens

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090430_14.jpg

Finance officials say global economic crisis will not prevent country’s first stock exchange from launching by end of year even if listings are minimal

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Sovann Philong

Finance Minister Keat Chhon opens the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia on Wednesday. The government says the stock exchange launch remains on schedule.

DESPITE the global financial crisis, Cambodia is still committed to launching a securities market by the end of this year, the finance minister said Wednesday at the official launch of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia.

"The launch of the securities market in Cambodia is still on the schedule for 2009, but a suitable date will be determined by the government later," Keat Chhon said during the SECC launch Wednesday.

"We have eight months to launch the stock market. We will launch it, even if at the start only two companies list on it."

He said that only profitable companies that maintain high standards of accountability, transparency and corporate governance will be allowed to make public offers.

"There are tens of thousands of companies in Cambodia, but when we selected around 400 companies with accurate financial reports, there was an instant negative reaction because they worried they could no longer embezzle taxes," he said.

"That's why I always appreciate foreign investors because most of them maintain good governance."

We will launch it, even if at the start only two companies list.

To encourage companies to join the stock market, Keat Chhon said that the government will consider tax incentives that will be provided for the issuing companies, investors and securities intermediaries.

This will in turn push companies towards better business practices, he added.

Inpyo Lee, project director of the Korean Exchange, said Wednesday that the SECC launch was a step towards the stock market, but that Cambodia's stock market launch date could be changed depending on the global economic climate.

"It can be delayed ... but we will try our best to achieve it on schedule," he said.

In mid-February, at the Business Roundtable in Siem Reap, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the absence of a stock exchange in Cambodia had helped the country escape the worst of the global economic crisis and that opening a stock market in this economic climate could be a mistake.

"If it is born just to die, we shouldn't let it be established at this time," he said.

Pung Kheav Se, president of Canadia Bank, said Wednesday that his bank was still deciding whether to list or not, but added that listing the company would be a good opportunity to build confidence among the public.

"We will discuss with our shareholders and board if we're to list on the upcoming market. Now our bank is sufficiently qualified for the stock market, in capital and profits, as well as in governance," he said.

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