Myanmar inaugurates new stock exchange

YANGON: Myanmar inaugurated a new stock exchange on Wednesday with plans for six companies to start trading in March.

Minister of Finance Win Shein said the Yangon Stock Exchange will initially be open only to Myanmar companies and investors, but planned law changes will eventually allow foreigners to invest in Myanmar shares.

The exchange was set up by local companies in a joint venture with Daiwa Institute of Research Japan and Japan Exchange Group, which operates the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Officials hope a stock market will help companies raise capital and fuel economic development in one of Asia's poorest countries.

Myanmar's economy was stunted by decades of international sanctions until military rulers yielded to a civilian government in 2010. The country had a stock exchange during military rule but it attracted few companies and trading was almost nonexistent.

Stock markets established recently in other developing Asian countries have fared poorly. A market in Laos has only two companies traded and Cambodia's stock exchange has attracted just one.

David Grayson, chief executive of Auerbach Grayson, a New York-based brokerage, said there is strong interest from investors in Myanmar. He said it's a positive sign that officials have promoted their plans for the market abroad.

Deputy finance minister Muang Muang Thien met financial institutions and other investors in New York in October and visited the New York Stock Exchange's trading floor.

The companies slated to list on Myanmar's exchange in March are: FMI Co., First Private Bank Ltd., Myanmar Citizen Bank, Thilawa Special Economic Zone Public Co., Myanmar Agricultural Business Public Co. and Great Horkham Public Co.