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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Grassroots bank goes commercial

Grassroots bank goes commercial

Cambodia's newest commercial bank says it expects to sign up 178,000 customers and

earn $6.7 million in net profit annually by 2008.

Chhay Soeun, financial deputy manager of the Association Cambodia Local Economic

Development Agency (ACLEDA) Bank Plc said the bank aims to earn $2.3 million in 2004,

$3.2 million in 2005, $4.4 million in 2006 and $5.5 million in 2007.

"We will invite an international credit rating company to classify our bank,

otherwise it will be difficult to enter the international market," he said.

Soeun told the Post on March 9 that ACLEDA started as a non-governmental organisation

to provide micro-finance to the poor in 1993, and its transformation to a commercial

bank resulted from healthy performance figures under good management.

ACLEDA's commercial operation was officially launched in Phnom Penh on March 1, by

the Minister of Economy and Finance, Keat Chhon, and the Governor of the National

Bank of Cambodia (NBC), Chea Chanto.

ACLEDA is the 14th bank to be granted a commercial license by the NBC. There are

also three specialized banks in Cambodia.

Prom Visoth, the secretary of ACLEDA, said the bank has been strongly competitive

in providing quality service, transparency, and human resources. He said the bank

will lend in riel from 2 to 4.5 percent interest, and in US currency from 1.5 to

3 percent.

"We expect an average growth of 30 percent over the next year to meet the high

standard of the market," said In Channy, general manager of ACLEDA.

He said the alliance of ACLEDA with its customers is an important tool for economic

growth at the grass roots level. It provides a stimulus to social development and

is a powerful weapon in the fight against poverty in Cambodia.

He said ACLEDA was a full commercial and retail banking service including overseas

fund transfers, foreign exchange, trade finance and other commercial banking services.

Soeun said the shareholders were 51 percent Cambodian and 49 percent foreign, as

permitted by law. He said there are five foreign shareholders within ACLEDA.

Channy said in his speech that the bank has increased capital from $4 million to

$13 million and now has total assets of more than $48 million. There were 103 branches

and offices in 21 provinces and serving more than 100,000 borrowing customers and

nearly 40,000 depositors throughout Cambodia.

The bank had outstanding loans for investment in the local economy totalling $43.35

million to more than 100,000 micro, small and medium business entrepreneurs, and

within eleven years had provided 896,599 loans totalling over $261 million.

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