Q and A with Jubley Pa of Maybank Cambodia
We’re seeing a recent surge in Malaysian business activity in the Cambodia. As Maybank Cambodia has said recently, you are expanding services and branches and seeking overall growth in the Kingdom. So my first question is, after all your time operating here, why the new focus on growth?
We have been operating in Cambodia since 1993. We have seen increasing opportunities available here as well as noted the increasing role that we can play to support the growth of the financial services industry, which is in line with our strategic objectives.
In recent years, in line with our vision to become a regional financial services leader, we have expanded our footprint in the region and this includes the expansion of our network in Cambodia where we have grown to 10 branches.
This expansion has also been timely given the rapid economic growth experienced by Cambodia in recent years. The rapid progress here has created increasing demand for financial facilities and we are committed to playing our role in supporting the country. With the Cambodian economy expected to grow by 6% this year and improvement in external demand as well as easing of credit we note there is also increasing investor confidence with the banking industry as lending has grown by 25.7% in 2010 while deposits increased 26.3% during the same period. These are among some of the compelling reasons to focus on growth here.
Also, Malaysia used to be the biggest investor in Cambodia, but has since fallen behind South Korea and China. Is this resurgence in business activity an attempt to maintain an investment foothold in the Kingdom's market? What are you hearing from other investors?
We can't talk on behalf of the countries but it is obvious that the economic circumstances of the country and that of the region has resulted in higher investments into the country from all directions. For Maybank, we are committed to our investment in Cambodia for the long term as evident through our history here. We believe Cambodia offers good investment potential and has a tremendous need for banking services which we can help to meet.
From our interaction with the business community, most of them have a similar long term positive outlook on the country and working together with the community we can help grow this nation and further develop the economy.
And to that end, can you give us the Malaysian perspective on investment in Cambodia? What opportunities are most attractive?
From a Malaysian perspective, investment in Cambodia provides us an opportunity to support the economic progress in Cambodia in the spirit of ASEAN cooperation, as well as to facilitate the banking and financial needs of the community here. As we have mentioned earlier, Maybank has a positive outlook on investment opportunities in Cambodia and we are here for the long term. Among the opportunities that appear most attractive include the manufacturing, agricultural, infrastructure development, and general commerce and services industries.
Cambodia has seen a quick increase in rubber and palm plantation purchases by Malaysian companies as well. Companies such as Felda, Golden Land Bhd and Top Glove Bhd have recently made large land acquisitions here. Is there any connection between the recent acquisitions? For example, have any government policies in either Malaysia or Cambodia led to the increase?
Many companies from Malaysia are looking for opportunities to expand their businesses overseas arising from the need to achieve greater growth potential. This is a natural progression for all companies, not necessarily just Malaysians. Cambodia is one the most attractive business and investment destinations currently given its location, market size, market friendly policies and competitive business environment. In addition, the government of Malaysia is also encouraging Malaysian companies to invest abroad especially in the ASEAN region to help facilitate further integration and spur more economic activities within this region which will benefit us all.
Is Cambodia an ideal place to invest in a rubber or palm plantation for a Malaysian company?
The northern areas of Cambodia such as Kampong Cham province are an ideal place to invest in rubber plantation due to their soil and climate suitability. Oil palm planting is suitable in the southern part of Cambodia.
What makes Cambodia attractive compared to other countries in the region, or compared to plantations in Malaysia?
Cambodia offers many advantages to investors who can benefit from its open market, pro-business government policy, stable political environment, a growing and young educated human resource. In the area of agriculture especially, the fertile land, vast potential cultivation area as well as government investment incentives are especially attractive to investors.