Maruhan Japan Bank entered Cambodia seven years ago, the first Japanese financial institution to set up shop in the Kingdom. Moeun Nhean speaks with Maruhan general manager Yabe Yoshikazu to learn the secret of the bank’s success.
Could you give our reader’s an overview of the banking industry in Cambodia today, and what we can expect with the coming ASEAN integration 2015?
The most unique point of the Cambodian banking industry is that the US dollar is used as the major currency for both deposits and loans. Multinational corporations can obtain loans with lower interest rates from their parent companies compared with the interest rates borrowed from the domestic banks with higher rates of deposit collected from the public. So the banks in Cambodia, including foreign-owned, are focusing on local companies and individuals, which has made Cambodia’s banking industry very competitive.
Another characteristic of this market is that the microfinance industry has developed into a very healthy and attractive one. Towards the ASEAN integration, the know-how of the microfinance business could be very useful for other ASEAN countries. In that sense, we believe Maruhan Japan Group can play a bigger role utilising our know-how in microfinance and our current overseas network in Laos and Myanmar.
Could you give us a little background on Maruhan Japan Bank’s parent company, Maruhan Corporation, and the decision to move into the Cambodian banking industry?
Our parent company is an entertainment conglomerate with strong growth in Japan and an active presence in the global market as well. Nearly seven years ago, when our chairman first visited Cambodia, he realised a healthy, experienced commercial bank would be crucial for the Cambodian economy and people and worked to bring a bank to Cambodia.
Maruhan Japan Bank recently acquired a majority stake in Sathapana Limited – a leading microfinance institution in Cambodia. How has this relationship played out thus far?
As mentioned before, one of the exciting features of the Cambodian financial market is the microfinance sector. Chief among them, Sathapana has developed a countrywide network and established a well-organised management system through its long experience in this industry. We have been managing Maruhan Japan Bank and Sathapana as independent entities with different regulations. Maruhan Japan Bank and Sathapana are always discussing ways to cooperate and grow together.
How much capital did Maruhan Japan Bank inject into Sathapana? What was the purchase price?
Maruhan Japan Bank acquired 95.1 per cent of the shares of Sathapana Limited. With apologies, we cannot disclose the acquisition price. But since the purchase, Maruhan Japan Bank has supported Sathapana in various ways such as subordinated debt and senior debt for its business expansion. The initial paid-up capital infusion was $25 million in 2009, and currently stands at $74 million.
What services does Maruhan provide and what sort of clients does the bank attract?
We are mainly focusing on providing both Cambodian corporations and individuals in Cambodia with full commercial banking services. We see “Honesty and Integrity” as the primary priorities of our Code of Conduct and have made every effort to establish a reputation as an honest company; efforts, we believe, that has led to trust from our clients.
Can you tell us the characteristics of the bank that has led to success?
We have achieved some success, but we do not want to rest on our laurels. We are still not yet satisfied with our performance and we continue to strive to be an even better, stronger company.
That said, the partnership between Cambodia’s first Japanese commercial bank and a leading microfinance institution with a prevailing brand, a client base that trusts our company and countrywide network are our strong point, and is a great foundation to fulfil the potential to contributing to the Cambodian economy and to the Cambodian people.