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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ACLEDA plans further expansion in Laos

ACLEDA plans further expansion in Laos

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090203_13.jpg

Two branches and five post offices set to open later this year

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TRACEY SHELTON

ACLEDA’s head office in Phnom Penh. The Cambodian bank is building more branches in Laos.

CAMBODIAN-owned ACLEDA Bank will expand its presence in Laos with a further two branches and five post offices opening later this year, Managing Director and CEO Phon Narin said.

ACLEDA will open its second bank branch in Vientiane and another in Khammouan province by the end of 2009, bringing its total number of branches in Laos to five.

Laos National Bank Governor Phouphet Khamphou Vong agreed to the plan during a visit at the end of last week to Cambodia as part of a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Bank of Cambodia.

ACLEDA will also open five post offices - one in Vientiane and two each in Savannakhet and Champasak.

In July 2008, the Cambodian-owned entity opened its Laotian head office in the capital along with another two bank branches in Savannakhet and Champasak.

"Bank operations in Laos and Cambodia are at the same level, there are just different laws and customs," said Phon Narin.

Like Cambodians, most Laotians keep their money at home, said Phon Narin, noting that people in Laos had been quick to open deposit accounts and take out loans. In many cases, young people have already adapted to using ATM machines and Western Union Money Transfer, he said.

"Customers [in Laos] are increasing by between 10 and 20 per day," he said, adding that the bank had seen very low levels of loan nonrepayment.

After its first six months of operations, ACLEDA has 2,000 account holders in Laos with 360 borrowers, having loaned more than US$1.6 million. Speaking during his visit to Cambodia on Friday, Laos National Bank governor, Phouphet Khamphou Vong, said ACLEDA's would help alleviate poverty in his country and its expanding presence in Laos could also help efforts "among micro, small and medium enterprises to enlarge their businesses".

"I hope that ACLEDA's investment will be part of efforts to boost the financial sector and Laos's overall economic growth," he added.

ACLEDA operates 226 branches in Cambodia, recording total assets of $690 million and $463 million in issued loans for 2008, said ACLEDA bank CEO In Channy. 

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