Myanmar is considered the “final frontier” in Asia — both literally and metaphorically — as it is one of the last countries within Asia to open its doors to foreign investors in recent years. In the last decade or so, countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos have opened up to the outside world, and the resulting investments that poured in have helped to lift the countries out of poverty and improve their economies drastically.
Long considered a frontier market (rather than an emerging market), Myanmar is a country ripe with opportunities, as years of military rule and a lack of investment have left it with decaying infrastructure and struggling businesses. Investors keen to gain exposure to this new market can look for companies with exposure to Myanmar. The country also founded its new stock exchange, the Yangon Stock Exchange, in 2015 and currently has five companies listed there.
Here are three companies with businesses in Myanmar you can consider investing in.
1. Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd
Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd (SGX: Z59) is a conglomerate with four major business divisions, all of which are based in Myanmar. Yoma Land is the group’s property division and has one of the largest landbanks in the country that focuses on the development of townships. Yoma Food and Beverage (F&B) owns the KFC franchise in Myanmar, distributes and bottles beverages, and provides wholesale and cold chain logistics services.
Yoma Financial Services is the group’s third division, and it has a technology-driven platform that provides financial services such as mobile payments and non-bank credit products. Finally, Yoma Motors provides a comprehensive suite of automotive and heavy equipment brands for agricultural and construction equipment.
2. ISOTeam Ltd
ISOTeam Ltd (SGX: 5WF) is an established company in the building maintenance and estate upgrading industry and engages in both R&R (repairs and redecoration) and A&A (addition and alteration) work for property projects. The group also offers specialist Coating and Painting (C&P) services and complementary niche service offerings such as interior design and electrical engineering works.
In April 2016, the group announced its first foray into Myanmar by setting up a joint venture company with longtime business partner and substantial shareholder Nippon Paint (Singapore) Company Pte Ltd. It has offered R&R services over the past three years, and the group has added residential interior design services to homeowners, too. The group has also completed two C&P projects there as stated in its Annual Report 2018.
3. Singapore-Myanmar Investco Limited
Singapore-Myanmar Investco Limited (SGX: Y45) is an investment and management company focused on high-growth areas in Myanmar. The group has diverse interests in a variety of industries within the country such as travel and fashion retail, food and beverage, construction services, and auto services.
SMIL’s three core pillars, however, are travel and fashion retail, food and beverage (F&B), and logistics. For travel and retail, SMIL operates duty-free travel retail stores and concepts at Yangon International Airport as well as new retail stores in the domestic market. For F&B, SMIL is managing brands such as Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Crystal Jade, and Ippudo Ramen. For the logistics division, the group provides logistics and warehousing services under a joint venture with Senko.
A nascent market with huge potential
Myanmar is a nascent market with huge growth potential, and the above companies are tapping into this growth in different ways. However, investors need to be discerning, too, as not all companies exposed to Myanmar will do well. They should factor in other aspects such as debt levels, margins, and other attributes before they commit their money.