Real estate firm Century 21 Mekong, one of nearly 20 independent real estate offices operating as part of the Century 21 franchise in Cambodia, plans to float shares on the stock market to raise funds for expansion, a company executive said yesterday.
Chrek Soknim, CEO of Century 21 Mekong, said the firm submitted a letter of intent to the market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC), last month and aims to list on the Cambodian securities market by the second half of 2017.
“We want to raise more capital to expand our operation by establishing two more branches and enlarging our staff to 100 people,” he said.
Century 21 Mekong currently operates just one branch in Phnom Penh with a staff of 15.
Soknim said he could not comment on the size of the stake to be offered or targeted proceeds as the initial public offering (IPO) was still in its early stage. He said the company was currently seeking a suitable underwriter and professional auditing firm to assist with the listing process.
“Becoming a successfully listed company will help us to build a good reputation to earn more trust and confidence for our clients,” he said.
If the IPO goes as planned, Century 21 Mekong would be the first full-service real estate firm to list on the Cambodian Securities Exchange (CSX), and the first company to list on the exchange’s Growth Board – a yet-untested platform for small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).
According to SECC regulations, companies are required to have a minimum $500,000 in operating capital to list on the Growth Board, compared to $7.5 million on the main board. Companies that list on the platform are also required to release only one year of audited financial results, as compared to the two years required for bigger companies.
The CSX has struggled to attract firms since its launch in 2012. To date, four companies have listed: state utility Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA), Taiwanese garment manufacturer Grand Twins International (GTI), state-owned port operator Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP) and industrial park operator Phnom Penh SEZ.
All four companies are listed on the CSX’s main board.
Lamun Soleil, director of the CSX’s market operations department, said at least two companies have expressed intent to list on the Growth Board. He declined to name the firms, but appeared to confirm that Century 21 Mekong was among them.
“I can only say that one is a real estate company,” he said. “We hope to see the first listed company on the board in the second half of 2017.”
Kuy Vat, chairman of the Cambodia Investor Club and the master franchiser for Century 21 in Cambodia, said he expects “one or two” of the club’s 220 members to list on the Growth Board next year.
“There are many SME owners who want to raise capital from the stock market as it is easier than going to the banks and they don’t need to worry about collateral,” he said.
He said small- and mid-cap companies that list on this board by the end of 2017 also stand to benefit from a corporate tax break of up to 50 percent for three years.
Vat, who is also president and CEO of VTrust Group, a local conglomerate whose subsidiaries operate in real estate, information technology, food and beverage and media, said he was still looking to list the company on the CSX – a plan he first made public in 2013.
“We originally planned to list VTrust on the main board,” he said. “We still want that and are completing the necessary procedures.”