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Seaweed Company Delays Share Sales

A Malaysian seaweed company has delayed a scheme to sell shares to Cambodians after warnings from the Security Commission of Cambodia the plan could be illegal.

FMCB Services, Bhd., has invested around $3 million in its Kampot province facility so far this year, with plans to export seaweed to US, where it can be packaged as food or used in cosmetics. Seaweed is also popular in European, Japanese, Chinese and Korean markets.

“We haven’t sold any shares so far,” Mei Ratha, FMCB’s Cambodian representative, told VOA Khmer. “Now we need to ask the [SCC] first, and we will decide to sell again only if we are allowed to do so.”

The company has 60 hectares of sea area, with a plan to increase to 10,000 hectares, which would demand raising capital between $30 million to $40 million. They had planned to sell shares for $300 per share, with promises of high returns: 30 percent the first year, 50 percent the second year and 75 percent the third year.

Mei Ratha said his company would cancel the sales if they are illegal.

“We need to wait and see,” he said. “If the government allows it and it is legal, we will sell. But if it is illegal, we won’t do it. We’ll forget about it and use our own money instead.”

Soon after FMCB announced the selling of shares, the securities commission, which is responsible for Cambodia’s nascent securities market, took measures to interrupt the process.

“We will invite them to clear out the issue,” said Minh Ban Kosal, secretary-general of the commission. “We will see if it is a desire or confusion.”

Public offerings are so far not legal in Cambodia, he said, and the company does not appear on the business listing of the Ministry of Commerce.

In order to sell shares, companies must be listed on the stock exchange, he said. The exchange is scheduled to open at the end of the year.