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Banking sector grows

The global economic recovery this year continues to benefit Cambodian banks, although insiders said yesterday macro-economic press-ures were still weighing on the industry.

Some of Cambodia’s biggest banks had enjoyed a strong 2011 thanks to a rebound in lending, deposits and profits, officials said.

Economists, however, have cautioned against lending to sectors that have not  yet fully recovered.

ACLEDA’s outstanding loans climbed 11 per cent to almost US$828 million at the end of June, compared year-on-year, with a noticeable uptick in lending to the agriculture sector.

Agriculture loans accounted for 16 per cent of its total loans outstanding.

“We had a much-improved performance, as non-perfor-ming loans were below 0.4 per cent. That means our profits were high, because we managed our risk well,” ACLEDA chief executive and president In Channy said.

The bank’s profit had reached more than $22 mill-ion for the first six months of 2011, whereas profits for the whole of last year had been $24 million, In Channy said.

Canadia Bank’s year-on-year loan portfolio at the end of the first half of 2011 increased to $578 million from $435 mill-ion, a 33 per cent rise.

Deposits totalled $1 billion, while gross profit before tax was $13.9 million in the period.

Canadia vice-president Dieter Billmeier also noted a 16 per cent rise in the bank’s customer base to 95,500.

“As far as our expectations for 2011 are concerned, we are on track for a successful year,” Billmeier said.

ANZ Royal Bank chief exec-utive Stephen Higgins also said his bank’s outstanding loans and deposits had bounced back for the period, with loans increasing to most sectors except property.

“I think the financial industry is in good shape,” Higgins  said yesterday.

“We’re fortunate in Cambodia because of the National Bank of Cambodia, I think. It is probably the best regulator of any industry in Cambodia, and that helps to strengthen the banking system.”

Advanced Bank of Asia, the 10th-largest bank in terms of total assets in the Kingdom, saw its total deposits increase 108 per cent to $161.3 million, while total loans jumped 101 per cent to $94.2 million.
Chief executive Madi Akmambet credited an overhaul of ABA’s product strategies, infrastructure and branding for the results.

He said ABA did not focus its lending on specific industries, but there had been growth in lending to garment-makers, tourism and the information technology sector.

Experts said one area that had not experienced much loan growth was real estate.

Kang Chandararot, an eco-nomist at the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, said that would probably remain the case until 2012.

“I think they should wait about a half-year more until our economy gets stronger,” Chandararot said.

“I believe the industry is still sluggish, especially given threats to the global economy such as the hike in petroleum and food prices, and the problems in Greece and the EU.”

Still, the overall rebound in banks showed that investors felt more confident in the sector, and it reflected an overall strengthening of the economy, he said.

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