Yangon bourse gets set for first listing

YANGON • Myanmar's new stock exchange plans to have its first listing on March 25, the deputy finance minister told Reuters yesterday, more than three months after it was launched.

The South-east Asian country's economy has been devastated by nearly 50 years of military rule. Rapid reforms since the junta handed over power in 2011 have included moves to finance growth by developing capital markets through platforms such as the new bourse.

Amid challenges such as inexperience, lack of capacity and having to meet governance standards, progress has been slow. The exchange was officially opened in December but has seen no transactions because there is nothing to trade.

Deputy Finance Minister Maung Maung Thein said three companies would list and start trading on the Yangon Stock Exchange on March 25. He declined to name the companies. Trading would be limited to one company at a time for several days because the market was still in its infancy, he said.

A Yangon-based banker said none of the companies that had been discussed by officials as potential listing candidates had issued a prospectus.

The exchange had tentatively planned to launch trading last Friday but encountered problems during test trading, the banker said. It was the latest in a string of delays that the exchange had run into.

The first company to list would have been First Myanmar Investment (FMI), the banker said. A conglomerate owned by tycoon Surge Pun, FMI is one of Myanmar's largest public companies.

The FMI listing would not involve an initial public offering or the raising of fresh capital, the banker said. It would involve the "recycling" of a previous share issue as FMI would list shares sold previously to the public through direct subscription, he said.

Apart from FMI, the government wants five other companies to prepare to list on the new bourse. Among them are Myanmar Citizens Bank, First Private Bank and Thilawa SEZ Holdings, which controls a new industrial zone run jointly by the government and a Japanese consortium.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2016, with the headline 'Yangon bourse gets set for first listing'. Print Edition | Subscribe