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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        12 January 2011

Laos bourse may spur investment

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Laos, which opened its stock market yesterday, offers "valuable opportunities" in industries from construction to banking as the country increases its infrastructure investments, investor Mark Mobius said.

Annual growth in Southeast Asia's smallest economy exceeding 7 percent in coming years may attract investment from other emerging markets such as China and Thailand, said Mobius, who oversees more than $40 billion as executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group. Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao Pcl and EDL-Generation Pcl, the two sole listings that debuted on the Laos exchange yesterday, jumped 45 percent and 9.3 percent respectively.

Resource-rich Laos is seeking to replicate successes in other communist countries such as Vietnam and China by developing its capital markets to facilitate growth and create jobs for Asia's youngest population. Laos may expand 7.5 percent this year, the fastest pace among the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asian Development Bank said in a report on its website.

Laos as part of the frontier markets holds a particular attraction to us," Mobius, 74, said. The country has potential to join "compelling" frontier stock markets as demand for its hydropower and mineral resources boosts economic growth, he said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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