By Prak Chan Thul
PHNOM PENH, July 11 (Reuters) - Cambodia opened its new stock exchange on Monday but there was no trading because there are no listed companies and officials seemed uncertain that any would be listed by the end of the year, the latest date for the much-delayed start of operations.
In a speech at the country's tallest building, part of which houses the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX), Finance Minister Keat Chhon told the three state-owned companies that plan a listing to hurry up.
"The inauguration today signals the readiness of the securities market for trading, which is planned for the end of this year if the companies can issue securities as planned," Keat Chhon said before touring the CSX's small trading room, which was crowded with guests and journalists.
He placed the first dummy order but the system did not appear to work.
Three state companies, Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA), Telecom Cambodia and Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, are preparing listings.
Alexandra Herbel, general manager of the French Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said she was aware of several private companies that were also making preparations.
"The process of listing is quite long, nine months to two years. It will take a little bit of time, so it will start with these three large companies and I think they have been working very hard and getting things up to standard," she said.
"How long it will take to really get everything approved, I don't know," she added.
PPWSA's director general, Ek Sonn Chan, declined to commit himself. "As of now, I don't know when we can get listed."
The CSX is a joint venture between the Cambodian government and Korea Exchange, the operator in Seoul of Asia's fourth-largest bourse.
It also helps run the bourse in Laos, another Southeast Asian frontier market. That market opened in January and trades two stocks. (Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Alan Raybould)