YANGON: Myanmar will open its first major stock exchange next week after months of delays, authorities said Tuesday, as the long-cloistered economy slowly opens up.
Initially slated for October, the Yangon Stock Exchange (YEX) will now be launched on December 9, according to a statement by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar.
Its debut was pushed back until after the breakthrough November 8 elections, won handsomely by Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party.
Suu Kyi’s supporters hope her party’s landslide win will hasten the pace of economic liberalisation in the formerly junta-ruled country.
Approval for the bourse was given by Maung Maung Thein, the chairman of the securities and exchange commission, according to state-backed newspaper the Global New Light of Myanmar.
About five companies will be listed on the YEX to start with, the official was quoted as saying.
Myanmar is one of just a handful of countries without a stock market.
In 1996 Japanese firm Daiwa Securities and a state bank set up the Myanmar Securities Exchange Centre, but this allowed over-the-counter sales of shares in just two firms, a Myanmar timber company and bank.
The workings of a bourse remain a mystery to most ordinary people, a nation where many keep their money at home and the banking system is still in its infancy after decades of state control over the economy.
But with controls easing since reforms began in 2011, local companies hope soon to be able to access more capital and woo investors.
“It is the first step for us and it will bring new economic opportunities for us,” Aung Tun Thet, an economic adviser to the president, told AFP.
“The most important thing is a systematic and disciplined process for running companies.”
Businessmen have broadly welcomed the exchange but there are concerns a new and poorly regulated bourse could attract dirty money, in a country where corruption runs deep.
“It is very important to prevent the stock exchange becoming a place for money-laundering,” said Aung Thura, an economic expert and head of the Thura Swiss market research company.
Official media says state-owned Myanma Economic Bank will own a controlling 51 percent stake in the YEX, with the remainder divided between Japanese partners the Japan Exchange Group and Daiwa Institute of Research, the research arm of Daiwa Securities Group.