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Private equity funds spark property boom in Cambodia

It is a sign, according to one analyst, that Cambodia is now ripe for growth and is poised to be one of the next top spots for property investors.

It is also a sign that it has, at last, shaken off the legacy of the Khmer Rouge and the outdated perception that it is a risky place to invest.

'A decade ago the capital Phnom Penh didn't even have one traffic light, now high-rise condos and offices are springing up as investors rake in the profits,' said a spokesman for David Stanley Redfern.

Research by the firm has found that at least four new private equity funds are aiming to bring $475 million of foreign investment into Cambodia. China, South Korea and Malaysia have also been pouring money into the country and in 2006 foreign direct investment totalled $2.6 billion, up from just £240 million in 2004.

'The government will continue to encourage this investment with market-oriented reforms, and both the ruling Cambodian People's Party and the main-opposition Sam Rainsy Party are committed to the same pro-business, pro-growth policy platform,' the spokesman said.

'Cambodia's economy has been expanding rapidly as a result, up by 9.6 percent in 2007, and by more than 10 percent per year during the previous three. Tourism arrivals have also grown, to 2 million in 2006, and by a further 20 percent in 2007,' he added.

Real estate agents predict that Phnom Penh is at the beginning of a growth era, like Bangkok 20 years ago or Ho Chi Minh City 10 years ago. Property prices are cheap but they are increasing. A traditional house along the river that sold in 2006 for $300,000 is now going for $600,000 to $700,000.

Cheaper property can still be found. Apartments in the chic riverside quarter of Phnom Penh start from as little as £49,000. Popular French colonial apartments are being refurbished and modernised and are expected to appreciate by 15 to 20% per year.