Business

Securities Commission Says Foreigners Cannot Buy Shares This Year

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 29 July 2016

NAYPYIDAW — The Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar (SECM) will not allow foreigners to buy shares on the Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX) this year, said Maung Maung Win, deputy minister of the Ministry of National Planning and Finance.

Only two companies have listed on the YSX to date—First Myanmar Investment (FMI) and Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Ltd.—with four more expected to list later this year. Since trading began in March, industry sources said foreign investors have indicated interest in investing, but the SECM has not allowed it.

“There are a lot of things to consider when thinking of allowing foreign investors, which is why it won’t happen this year. We’ve been looking at other countries’ practices as well,” said Maung Maung Win.

He added that the Myanmar Companies Act must be amended before foreigners can buy shares from local companies. Enacted in 1914, some of the clauses are ill-suited for present-day Burma, but have yet to be updated by Parliament.

Khin Maung Nyo, economist and columnist, said if the government allows foreigners to legally purchase shares, it would have to limit what percentage they could purchase in order to maintain control of the market. He said he was concerned that local investors would be kicked out if foreigners could play the market, and that perhaps foreigners were already buying stock shares indirectly.

Industry sources said some foreigners have shown an interest in investing in FMI shares through local colleagues.

FMI opened in March at about 26,000 kyats (about US$22) per share, peaked at 41,000 kyats in April and later stabilized at about 30,000 kyat last month.

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