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WB proposes Cambodia’s 1st corporate bonds issue

WB proposes Cambodia’s 1st corporate bonds issue

Microfinance firm Hattha Kaksekar Limited (HKL) and a World Bank lending arm have become the first institutions to announce a proposal for a corporate bonds issuance in Cambodia, spearheading the use of a new tool for businesses to raise capital.

Since the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) – the regulator of Cambodia’s capital market – finalised regulations around corporate bonds in August, the commission has hinted at heightened interest among businesses seeking approval to make use of the financing tool.

In a statement dated Wednesday, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank Group subsidiary focusing on private-sector investment in developing countries, disclosed a proposal to invest up to $20 million in riel bonds issued by HKL.

In the statement, the IFC said it would leverage its global experience in local bond issuances to help HKL issue the first corporate bonds in the country.

“The IFC investment in the first Khmer Riel bond in Cambodia is to help create a domestic corporate bond market in Cambodia and to support the company in raising funding to finance the growth of its lending program to micro borrowers including farmers and women borrowers in the rural areas,” the IFC said in its filling.

As of the end of 2017, HKL was operating with an asset base of around $691 million, serving about 118,000 borrowers. HKL has 168 branches across Cambodia, employing over 3,100 people.

Hout Iengtong, president and CEO of HKL, confirmed yesterday that his institution planned to raise funds by issuing corporate bonds, saying the firm’s business development department had worked with IFC on preparing the issuance.

Iengtong declined to provide further detail on the proposal, saying only that “we hope we are able to [issue the bonds] within this year”.

The IFC is set to put the proposal to its board of directors on June 15.

Representatives from the SECC could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters at a training workshop about derivatives trading in late April, Sou Socheat, director-general of the SECC, said corporate bonds would provide new opportunities for companies to raise funds for capital improvements and business expansion.

Socheat at the time declined to give a specific timeline for when the first company might issue such bonds, but said he hoped there would be private companies willing to issue bonds this year as there had been several companies seeking approval to do so.

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