Burma’s New Stock Exchange Prepares for First Listing
By Aung Hla Tun 14 March 2016
RANGOON — Burma’s new stock exchange plans its first listing on March 25, the deputy finance minister told Reuters on Sunday, more than three months after it launched.
The Southeast Asian country’s economy was devastated by nearly 50 years of military rule and rapid reforms since the junta handed over power in 2011 have included the development of capital markets to help finance growth, such as the new stock market.
But with challenges ranging from governance standards to inexperience and lack of capacity, progress has been slow. Since the exchange’s official opening in December, there have been 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 (YSX) on March 25. He declined to name the companies, but said the three initial listings would be those companies “most ready.”
Trading would be limited to one company at a time for several days because the market was still in its infancy, he said.
A Rangoon-based banker said none of the companies that have been discussed by officials as potential candidates for listing have issued a prospectus.
The exchange had tentatively planned to launch trading on March 11 but problems found in test trading delayed it, the banker said. That was the latest in a string of delays to the start of trading.
The first company to list would have been First Myanmar Investment (FMI), the banker said. FMI is a conglomerate of tycoon Surge Pun and one of Burma’s biggest public companies.
A spokesperson for FMI declined to comment and directed enquiries to the YSX.
The FMI listing will not involve an initial public offering or the raising of fresh capital, the banker said. The listing is a recycling of a previous share issue as FMI would list shares it has previously sold to the public through direct subscription, he said.
Pun’s firm has a head start on other companies in Burma in terms of meeting the governance and transparency standards required for a listing. FMI sister company Yoma Strategic Holdings is listed in Singapore, and is the only Burmese company listed abroad.
Aside from FMI, the government wants five other companies to prepare to list. Among them are Myanmar Citizens Bank, First Private Bank and Thilawa SEZ Holdings, which controls a new industrial zone jointly run by the government and a Japanese consortium.
Myanma Economic Bank owns 51 percent of the exchange, presenting another potential problem if foreign investors should be allowed to invest in the future. The bank is among several lenders on the US Department of Treasury’s list of sanctioned entities due to its ties to the former junta.
Japan’s Daiwa Securities and the Japan Exchange Group, which operates the Tokyo Stock Exchange, own the rest of the YSX.