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Worries Delay Opening of Stock Exchange

Cambodia’s much-touted stock exchanged will not be opened at the end of the year as planned. Instead, worries after the Greek debt crisis and internal problems will delay the opening of the bourse until 2011.

Finance Minister Keat Chhon made the announcement at a business conference in Daejeon, South Korea, on Sunday. South Korea has been a main backer of the stock exchange, which has proven elusive, having first been delayed in 2009.

“We have to be careful and take a close look to see if we have more things to do relating to regulations to avoid risk,” Keat Chhon told the regional conference, “Asia 21: Leading the Way Forward.”

“Meanwhile, there are two internal problems regarding governance of regulators and companies,” he said.

Economic officials hope the exchange will boost growth. Already, the government has ordered three state-owned companies to prepare for a listing on the exchange: Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority and Telecom Cambodia.

Keat Chhon said Sunday these companies need more time to get ready. He declined to elaborate on an exact month the exchange might open in 2011.

Cambodia’s Securities Exchange Commission is also now looking for a partner to provide training to government officials to help them educate the public about trading on the exchange.

“We will provide training at universities, the business community and the general public about the benefits of stock trading and the difference between doing simple business,” SEC Secretary General Minh Ban Kosal said.

The exchange is also wrestling with which currency to use—dollar or riel. And it remains unclear how popular the exchange will be in the private sector.

No private companies have yet to sign up for listing on the exchange, though some interest has been expressed in the past from businesses in banking, agriculture and the garment sector.