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Advans SA increases holdings in local MFI

Luxembourg-based Advans SA Group and two other foreign investors have increased their share holdings in local microfinance institution Amret, giving Advans a controlling stake in the company.

Claude Falgon, executive director of Advans SA SICAR, said that since the first stake acquisition, the business had acquired 20 per cent in 2005 and an additional 10 per cent in 2010, before last week’s purchase.

“We have been privileged to support Amret in its development; the institution, which constantly expands its outreach and profitability while serving clients in a responsible manner, has had great success,” he said.

Advans has now increased its share of the business to 52.8 per cent, while Dutch development bank FMO increased its share from 12.6 per cent to 19.9 per cent.

As of February 2015, Amret's total assets were $359 million and had made credit available to 367,000 households. Outstanding loans totalled $309 million and 176,000 deposit accounted for $156 million.

“We strongly believe that our business will grow in a transparent and sustainable manner and this new investment structure will drive us further to meet and exceed the expected goals.,” said Che Palarin, CEO of Amaret.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, acquired 19.9 per cent of Amret’s share capital, with the aim of increasing lending to micro and smaller businesses, as well as low-to-middle-income borrowers in Cambodia.

“This will help the company extend financial services to more borrowers in poorer provinces and increase lending for agricultural activities that are critical to economic growth,” said Adel Meer, IFC’s financial institutions group manager for East Asia and the Pacific.

Kim Vada, director general of bank supervision at the National Bank of Cambodia, welcomed the investment from foreign partners emphasising investor confidence in Cambodia's financial sector.

“I do believe Amret will keep expanding its business coverage by introducing creative products and services to serve the customer,” he said.

Cambodia’s 39 MFIs reported $2.03 billion in outstanding loans last year, rising 44 per cent compared to 2013. The total amount of savings at the seven deposit-taking MFIs reached $897 million by the end of 2014, more than doubling from 2013, according to the Cambodian Microfinance Association.

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