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SMEs get support to go public

A man points to figures displayed by the CSX at a listing ceremony for the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone last year.
A man points to figures displayed by the CSX at a listing ceremony for the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone last year. Athena Zelandonii

SMEs get support to go public

In a move to urge small- and medium-sized businesses to list on the Cambodian stock exchange’s Growth Board, more than 70 companies have joined a new initiative offered by the market regulator that will provide professional guidance on how to meet listing criteria, paving the way to having a first listing sometime next year.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) launched its “Excellence Program” today with the aim to help companies develop the capacity to prepare adequate financial reports, establish proper accounting principles and learn about how the growth board can provide additional funding sources.

“This programme will be a major contributor to developing the capacity of SMEs in order to meet listing criteria,” SECC Director Sou Socheat said yesterday. “We are optimistic that there will be at least three or four companies that can be listed on the Cambodia Securities Exchange’s Growth Board next year.”

The Excellence Program is a three-day seminar that will choose five companies for in-house consultation by the SECC and underwriting firms. The seminar is designed for owners and top management of local companies.

The Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX) has struggled to attract a single SME since the launch of its Growth Board in late 2015. According to SECC regulations, companies are required to have a minimum of $500,000 in operating capital to list, compared to $7.5 million on the main board. Companies that list on the platform are also required to release one year of audited financial results, compared to the two years required for bigger companies.

Seng Chan Thoeun, head of corporate finance at SBI Royal Securities, said that the initiative would strengthen SMEs’ ability to meet the SECC requirements.

“Without the programme, SME owners will remain hesitant to list while even underwriting firms have difficulties in evaluating companies,” he said. “When they join the programme and qualify, companies can access funds through the capital market either by listing on the stock market or issuing bonds.”

Lamun Soleil, director of market operations at the CSX, said that SMEs face more difficulties in listing due to a lack of qualified personnel, corporate governance standards and smooth internal financial policies. He added that SMEs generally face more upfront costs to list as they have to restructure a company to be compliant.

“Hence, the programme would hopefully assist them in terms of advice and guidance by showing a more correct and shorter way that lowers expenses,” he said.

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