Myanmar set to open first stock exchange

Myanmar set to open first stock exchange
A pedestrian walks past the Sule Pagoda in the evening in Yangon, Myanmar, on June 3, 2013.

YANGON - Myanmar's deputy finance minister has said the country will launch its first official stock exchange by October, as the emerging economy takes another step towards opening up after decades of isolation.

Maung Maung Thein said the former junta-run nation was on track to launch the bourse in the country's main commercial hub of Yangon.

"Our target date is October 2015 at the latest. But it may be earlier," he told AFP on Tuesday from the capital Naypyidaw, adding that "no more than five companies" would be listed on the stock exchange to begin with.

Myanmar's central bank signed a joint venture agreement with Japan Exchange Group and Daiwa Institute of Research, the research arm of Daiwa Securities Group, last month to set up and run the Yangon Stock Exchange following years of discussions.

Myanma Economic Bank will own the controlling 51 per cent-stake in the Yangon Stock Exchange Joint-Venture Company with the remainder divided between the Japanese partners, the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar reported Wednesday.

The newspaper quoted Maung Maung Thein as saying Myanmar was one of only nine countries in the world, including North Korea and Brunei, without a stock exchange.

"We will be able to exit the list of countries with no stock exchange soon," he said.

Since the end of outright military rule in 2011, Myanmar has moved to liberalise its economy as part of wider reforms aiming to lure international companies as the once cloistered nation seeks to rebuild its economy.

Japanese businesses in particular have been active in the country with strong backing from Tokyo, which has cancelled billions of dollars of debt and offered massive aid grants.

In 1996, Daiwa and the central bank set up the Myanmar Securities Exchange Centre, which allows over-the-counter sales of shares in two firms, a Myanmar timber company and bank.

But the planned bourse would be Myanmar's first official stock exchange.

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