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Acleda to expand in Myanmar and Laos

ACLEDA bank’s foreign operations in Laos and Myanmar performed well in 2013, and as a result, expansion plans are in the works, according to a senior executive.

In Channy, CEO of Acleda, said in an interview last week that loans from the Myanmar-based microfinance arm of the bank reached $2.6 million at the end of last year, more than the $1.8 million forecasted when the institution was established in March.

“We see the business has great potential for both countries, so we are expanding our operations,” Channy said. “Myanmar is gradually opening its economy and demand for financial services is increasing,” he added, referring to lauded economic reforms that have taken place since 2011 when President Thein Sein entered office.

Acleda’s Microfinance Myanmar (AMM) started with a paid-up capital of $10 million. By the end of 2013, there were six branches with total loans outstanding of $2.6 million. The bank has offices in Yangon and Bago, though the operations are limited to microfinance, as Acleda has not yet opened a commercial bank branch in the country.

By the end of 2014, Acleda will have 18 AMM branches in Myanmar, with $11 million in outstanding loans, Channy said. Acleda’s operations in Laos are more advanced, with 41 commercial branches and 45 ATMs spread out across provinces and cities. Established in 2008, Acleda Bank Laos (ABL) had 16,711 active borrowing customers by the end of 2013, with loans outstanding totaling $88.6 million, up from $65.6 million in 2012. Savings and deposits stood at $71.7 million last year, compared to 2012’s total of $52.5 million.

Channy expects growth across the board in Laos. In 2014, ABL plans to add four more branches.

Hing Thoraxy, senior researcher at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP), said that Acleda’s success here can be duplicated abroad.

“Acleda is a major player in providing financial services to the rural economy. This market segment in Laos and Myanmar leaves plenty of room for the bank to grow,” he said.

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