Acleda Bank’s shareholder, ASA Public Limited company (ASA Plc), is due to become the sixth firm in the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX). The company is planning an IPO that could raise $89.6 million for 25 percent of its stake. However, as reported by Khmer Times last week, the IPO is already two months behind schedule, with a company representative saying there is still some work to be done before it can become a publicly listed corporation.
Khmer Times’ Sok Chan sits down with Neth Piseth, chairman of the board of directors of ASA, to discuss the latest developments on the IPO as well as ASA’s plans for the future.
KT: ASA said it will join CSX by the end of 2018. However, this hasn’t happened. Where exactly is ASA now in the IPO process?
Mr Piseth: We have already submitted all documentation required by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC), which they are now reviewing. We are now waiting for approval.
KT: Why does ASA want to join the local bourse?
Mr Piseth: Listing with CSX is part of our current 5-year strategy. We believe now is the right time for ASA to become a publicly traded company.
KT: Most commercial banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the country do not consider joining the local bourse as a way of raising capital to expand their operations. Do you think your IPO might make them reconsider? Do you think it will attract more companies to the local bourse?
Mr Piseth: I think it will. I believe that other financial institutions will follow suit because, after all, we own a 25-percent stake at Acleda Bank, the leading commercial bank in the nation.
KT: Why are other financial institutions not interested in a listing?
Mr Piseth: There is no doubt that listing with CSX entails numerous benefits, including tax incentives. However, my opinion is that most companies are still hesitant to join because the local securities market is still very young – it is only seven-years-old, after all. Most investors are still afraid that listing might end in failure.
Despite this, ASA is eager to join the local bourse. We believe that people are becoming more aware of the benefits of listing and investing in the local bourse. Meanwhile, the economy is expanding fast and people’s incomes are growing steadily, which makes it a good time to list with CSX. I believe after ASA, many other financial institutions will think of joining.
There is plenty of proof that CSX is thriving. For example, Hatta Kasekar Limited issued the country’s first corporate bond last year. This is a significant development. There are other companies that are thinking of joining and are already preparing the paperwork.
KT: Why should people invest in ASA shares?
Mr Piseth: ASA’s only investment is in Acleda Bank. This means that our listing will enable people to invest in Acleda, and to make money when the bank makes money.
KT: How will CSX develop in the next five years?
Mr Piseth: I think in the near future CSX will experience significant growth due, in no small part, to ASA’s IPO. I think our listing will attract a lot of new investors to the local bourse. ASA’s IPO will mark a turning point for CSX, as Acleda has a lot of customers.
KT: Any words of advice to investors?
Mr Piseth: I urge the public and investors to consider CSX more seriously. Investing in the local bourse could be very lucrative if done well.