South Korea-based Woori Bank has purchased Cambodian microfinance institution Malis Finance for $4.9 million.
Hun Soopheak, general manager of Malis Finance, said the deal was finalised two weeks ago; however, the firm is still awaiting approval from Cambodian regulators.
“Everything remains the same, but with the new shareholder,” Soopheak said.
Soopheak also revealed plans for Malis, which was launched in 2011 with $2.25 million in start-up capital, to develop into a commercial bank within the next five years.
“[Woori Bank] is looking to enter the ASEAN market, so they want to start in Cambodia with an MFI then . . . a bank,” he said.
“It’s difficult to develop a [stable] business model in Cambodia due to its low levels of economic development, so we’ve decided to first gain more expertise in the market by trying our hand in the micro financing business,,” a Woori bank official told the Korean Herald last week.
Sim Senacheeert, CEO of rival MFI Prasac Microfinance, welcomed the South Korean firm’s interest in Cambodia’s financial sector.
“We have seen many foreign investors coming because local investors are simply not interested – or don’t understand how MFI works,” he said.