- Language Tips
VIENTIANE - Chinese investors were the biggest foreign group in the Lao stock market, Lao Security Exchange (LSX) Chairman and CEO Dethphouvang Moularat said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Thursday.
However, Moularat indicated that Thai investors might soon overtake the Chinese. "We have more than 8,000 accounts. For Lao accounts, we have around 50 percent. For accounts for other countries, China is the first, Thailand is the second. But maybe Thailand will become the first in the future."
The LSX is the first capital market in Laos, one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. It aims to attract huge capital for the development of the country, to raise long-term funds to Lao companies and to promote integrity of the Lao financial market.
The LSX, which was officially opened on October 10, 2010, formally began its trading on January 11, 2011. It may be one of the smallest stock markets in the world. There are only two companies listed on the LSX: one is Laos' largest commercial bank Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao (BCEL) and another is EDL-GEN, a unit of state-run energy giant Electricite du Laos.
The Lao government controls foreign investment tightly on the LSX. Under regulations, foreigners are allowed to purchase only 10 percent of listed companies' shares. Furthermore, any given individual foreign investor can hold only one percent.
Moularat expects that will change, however, with the passage of a new securities law regulating the stock market. The law is expected to be passed by the end of this year. "When we have the securities law, I think the amount for them (foreign investors) could increase," he said.
Another new development for the Lao stock market is the expected introduction of an online trading system. Presently all trading must be done in person within the offices of the LSX or by phone.
Moularat told Xinhua that he expected the new home trading system, designed to facilitate further foreign investment, to be available by the end of the year as well.
Moularat also expected several new companies to list on the market soon. "For the near future, I think we will have two or three (new) listed companies like the Enterprise of Telecommunications Lao (ETL), Indochina Group," he said.