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Change in chairmen at ANZ

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Kith Meng (left) stands next to ANZ Banking Group CEO Mike Smith during a press conference in Phnom Penh last month.

Prominent businessmen Kith Meng’s six-year tenure as ANZ Royal Bank chairman has ended, with his successor touted as the chief executive officer of ANZ’s South and South-East Asia operations.

Kith Meng has held the position since the bank’s launch in 2005, but the firm’s chief executive officer Stephen Higgins said today that it was business as usual for the joint venture.

Decisions regarding the chairmanship of ANZ Royal were a matter for the bank’s board, he added, which represents the two partners.

A shareholders’ agreement, he said, requires that the chairmanship rotates every three years, however an exception was made three years ago.

“In early 2008, reflecting the early stage of ANZ Royal’s development, the board took the view that the chairmanship should remain unchanged for a further three-year term to provide continuity,” he wrote today.

Higgins emphasised daily operations at the company would be unaffected by the transition, stating: “Day to day management won’t change.”

The bank is 55-percent owned by ASX-listed Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, with the remaining 45 percent by Kith Meng’s Royal Group conglomerate.

The agreement between the two shareholders to establish the bank was first signed in 2004, and the bank launched in September 2005.

According to the most recent statistics available from the National Bank of Cambodia, ANZ Royal is the Kingdom’s fourth largest bank out of an estimated 27 nationwide, by measures including loans and deposits.

A spokesperson at ANZ Royal Bank said today the new chairman is expected to be ANZ’s CEO for South and South East Asia Mark Robinson.

Robinson joined ANZ in June last year after a 25-year career at Citigroup throughout Europe and Asia, and most recently served as CEO for Citigroup’s South East Asia regional business.

Robinson joined ANZ’s Australia-based CEO Mike Smith on a visit to Cambodia last month, where ANZ Royal’s new logo was unveiled, with Kith Meng also in attendance.

Royal Group, where Kith Meng is chairman and CEO, is one of Cambodia’s largest business groups.

Besides its stake in ANZ Royal Bank, it is the full owner of mobile phone provider CamGSM, which operates under the Cellcard brand and holds a 45 percent stake of the Kingdom’s sole railroad operator Toll Royal Railways.

It holds a number of properties including the Cambodiana Hotel.

Last month, it was revealed that the Royal Group is a 49 percent partner in the Sesan 2 hydroelectric dam project in Steung Treng province with the Vietnam Electricity Group.

Kith Meng – who is also president of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce - today directed questions about his tenure as ANZ Royal Bank chairman to Stephen Higgins.

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