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MFI Sathapana to merge with Maruhan Japan Bank

Cambodian microfinance institution Sathapana Limited is merging with its majority shareholder, Maruhan Japan Bank Plc, to become a new commercial bank that aims to be in operations early next year, according to a joint company announcement made yesterday.

With an initial capital base of more than $100 million, the two financial institutions will come together to form Sathapana Bank Plc (Maruhan Japan Group), Bun Mony, the CEO of Sathapana Microfinance Institution, said at the MoU signing in Phnom Penh yesterday.

“We expect the discussion on consolidation between Sathapana Limited and Maruhan Japan Bank Plc to be finished by the end of this year, and then we will submit a document for official acknowledgement on this consolidation by December,” he added.

The two financial firms will integrate their loan products, operating systems and human resources before submitting a request to the National Bank of Cambodia for an official licence, the Sathapana CEO said. Mony expects to receive the green light from the NBC no later than the first quarter of 2016.

Maruhan Japan Bank, which began operating in Cambodia in 2008, acquired a 95 per cent share of Sathapana Limited in 2012.

The Japanese bank expects to acquire the remaining 4.9 per cent share by the end of the year.

Sathapana started as an NGO in 1995 before receiving its MFI licence in 2003. As of January 2015, the combined total assets of both organisations stand at $527 million, with 140 offices employing more than 2,650 staff.

Speaking at the signing yesterday, Yabe Yoshikazu, general manager of Maruhan Japan Bank Plc, said competition in the banking sector was “fierce” and the merger of the two would help expand the banks clients and distribution network.

“Currently we have only one head office in Phnom Penh – in that sense, we are not big operation right now, but we are making profits for two years already,” he said of Maruhan Japan Bank’s operations.
“We are doing well regarding the sales in the whole sale banking, private banking and regional banking as well.

“But we miss the natural reserve, so we are looking for branches or ATM network. This consolidation will serve us, provide us the 140 branches and around 40 ATM, we are going to increase the number of ATM to make it useful and easy to use bank,” he said.

The marriage will bring together more than 90,000 deposits and 105,000 loans – the majority coming from the MFI.

“There isn’t much to gain in keeping the two businesses separate, and it makes sense to absorb the Maruhan brand into Sathapana – which is clearly a much stronger business in Cambodia,” said Stephen Higgins, a managing partner at Cambodia-based investment firm Mekong Strategic Partners

“Consolidation in the market is to be welcomed, and I’m sure the NBC will be happy about it,” Higgins added.

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