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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Stock exchange due for soft launch during Q1

Stock exchange due for soft launch during Q1

091113_07
Duk-Kon Kim, vice president of Korea’s World City, points Thursday to the land where Cambodia's stock exchange will be built in Camko City on the outskirts of Phnom Penh (left). At right the company's model of the development shows the proposed location of the four-storey exchange building on a redeveloped waterfront.

But first three companies still won’t list until the end of 2010 with govt still undecided on the final exchange building design

CAMBODIA’S stock exchange will have a soft opening at the beginning of next year, a finance official said Thursday, thereby missing the government’s previous end-of-year deadline due to delays in passing necessary legislation.

“The soft opening of Cambodia’s stock market will be in January or February next year,” Mey Vann told the Post, adding that the government had only passed about 10 of the 30 required regulations to launch the bourse.

The three state-owned companies the government has pushed to list on the exchange – Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, Phnom Penh Port and Telecom Cambodia – would not make their initial public offerings until the end of 2010, he added.

“We will open it without any company listings at the start,” Mey Vann said. “I will just open an office to receive companies that are sufficiently qualified to join the stock market.”

The Ministry of Economy and Finance will house the new bourse to begin with, he said, ahead of the completion of a US$6 million exchange building in Camko City on the outskirts of Phnom Penh which is scheduled to be finished and ready to start trading around October next year.

Duk-Kon Kim, vice president of Korea’s World City, which is the developer of Camko City, told the Post Thursday that it was still waiting for the finance ministry to select one of five conceptual designs for the exchange.

“The Ministry of Finance informed me that they will select the final one … this week, and the construction agreement can be reached at that time,” he said, adding that World City would be able to break ground in December, a month later than it previously planned.

The design, which will be paid for by World City along with construction costs, will mix a traditional Khmer pagoda style with modern design elements, he added.

Inpyo Lee, the Cambodia-based project director of Korea Exchange (KRX), the joint-venture partner on the exchange along with the finance ministry, said Thursday that discussions were continuing on the start date, but that he thought it should be launched without delay.

“I think the sooner, the better. Many countries had a stock market early even when their economic situations lagged behind … Cambodia’s,” he said, referring to South Korea’s decision to launch a securities exchange in the late 1950s despite being one of the poorest countries in the world at the time after the Korean War.

Given the significance of the project, Lee said, the government would push hard to set up the exchange, but public confidence remains the biggest challenge.

“People are still cautious about the stock market,” said Lee, agreeing that the three firms due to list would not be qualified to do so until the end of 2010. “Many people still think the stock market is a form of gambling, but it’s not actually; it will help the Cambodian government boost the economy.”

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