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Myanmar’s Max Looking for Financial Services, Banking Partners

Max Myanmar Holding Co., a hotels-to-engineering conglomerate, said it is looking for partnerships in financial services and is in talks with France-based Accor SA to expand cooperation in hotel management.

The Yangon, Myanmar-based group expects legal changes in the country to encourage more investment, U Zaw Zaw, Max Myanmar chairman, said in an interview Thursday at the Bloomberg Invest Myanmar conference. U Zaw Zaw also said he “has a dream” to list the company in Hong Kong, Bangkok or Singapore, along with Yangon.

Myanmar is enacting laws to encourage foreign investment in one of Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economies. A revamped companies law to take effect by April will allow overseas investors to acquire as much as 35 percent of the equity in local firms before they are considered foreign-owned. Foreigners will also be able to buy shares on the Yangon stock exchange. A separate proposed law would also make foreign companies eligible for tax incentives without first seeking approval from the Myanmar Investment Commission.

“The government needs to frame investor friendly policies to attract foreign investment,” U Zaw Zaw said in a panel discussion at the conference in Yangon. “We need to invest in infrastructure like roads and power. Power generation is very low.”

Max, founded in 1993, owns three hotels in the country including two that are managed by Accor SA, as well as cement factories, highway projects and gasoline pumps. U Zaw Zaw was previously on the U.S. government’s list of “specially designated nationals.”

The U.S. government began a program of sanctions against Myanmar in May 1997 when the country was run by a military junta. Following a transition toward democracy, President Barack Obama rolled the sanctions back in October last year.

The now defunct U.S. program had targeted individuals and entities including Tay Za, father of AGD Bank’s Managing Director Htoo Htet Tay Za, as well as U Zaw Zaw and his Max Myanmar Group.

The European Union lifted all its sanctions against Myanmar in 2013, with the exception of an arms embargo.

Source: Bloomberg Quint

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