Bursa Malaysia Bhd and credit ratings agency RAM Holdings Bhd entered into a shareholders’ agreement today to develop a debt fundraising platform to facilitate listed and unlisted small to mid-sized companies tap into a new pool of capital outside of the traditional wholesale markets.

In a filing today, the bourse said the 51:49 joint venture will be via a body corporate to be incorporated under the Companies Act 2016, with Bursa Malaysia holding the larger stake.

“The credit-rated investment notes issued on the platform allow investors to invest in investment notes as easily as they would invest in shares in a transparent and regulated market.

“Bursa Malaysia and RAM shall provide initial and future financial assistance to the NewCo, in proportion to their respective shareholdings, with a minimum initial capital of RM5 million to be injected into the NewCo,” it said.

In a separate statement, Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Muhamad Umar Swift said this would further create an alternative fund-raising avenue for businesses which are currently underserved in this challenging environment and that are not yet ready to list on the exchange.

The platform also features ESG-rated investment notes to help issuers who want to reinforce environmental, social and governance credentials with investors.

Bursa Malaysia and RAM will be committed to the joint venture for a minimum five years from December 22, 2022, the date of the shareholders agreement.