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Big banking move

Australian bank ANZ will join Cambodia's Royal Group in an $18 million venture to expand electronic banking in the kingdom.

Branches of the new ANZ Royal Bank Cambodia Limited are expected to open in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap by mid-2005, offering automatic teller machines (ATMs) and debit card payment services.

A shareholders agreement was signed in Phnom Penh on November 1, according to a statement from the Australian embassy.

Rob Goudswaad, ANZ's small business general manager, said they hope to open 20 branches in Cambodia over the next five years, installing 100 ATMs and about 1,000 debit machines, according to a report by Associated Press.

The Royal Group, which has a large mobile telecommunication business, will own 45 percent of the company, with ANZ holding the rest. ANZ has assets of $184.5 billion and operates in Asia, the Pacific, Europe and the United States.

Tal Nay Im, director general of the National Bank of Cambodia, said that while final approval from the central bank and the government had not yet been granted, there should be "no problem" due to ANZ's strong reputation worldwide.

"It could bring a lot of investors to Cambodia because they [will] feel confident" about financial services on offer, said Im.-Liam Cochrane

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