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Acleda joins WEF growth club

Commuters pass by Acleda’s Monivong branch in Phnom Penh
Commuters pass by Acleda’s Monivong branch yesterday in Phnom Penh. Acleda Bank is the second organisation to gain membership to World Economic Forum. Pha Lina

Acleda joins WEF growth club

Cambodia’s largest financial institution, Acleda Bank, has been adopted into the World Economic Forum’s group of Global Growth Companies (GGC), an exclusive club made up of some of the world’s fastest-growing medium-size firms.

The WEF yesterday announced that 20 companies from the Asia-Pacific region had been added to the list of 360, including six from Japan, three from South Korea, two from Vietnam and two from Myanmar.

Rodolfo Lara Torres, director and deputy head of Global Growth Companies community at WEF, commended Acleda on its consistent financial performance and its corporate citizenship practices.

“For example, it fully subscribes to international conventions which prohibit the provision of credit to any activities which might harm the environment or jeopardise human rights,” Lara Torres said. “Acleda Bank is the only Cambodian company to receive the award this year. Nevertheless, the country displays a dynamic business environment for small and medium enterprises, and the Forum is currently considering applications for the 2015 selection process,” he added.

The WEF is a Swiss nonprofit organisation boasting some of the world’s largest firms, including Microsoft and Facebook. Acleda Bank became an official member of the WEF earlier this year, joining youth engagement and employment NGO Friends International as the only Cambodian members. On the WEF’s list of Global Growth Companies, Acleda joins the likes of information technology firm Mozilla and Vietnam’s largest financial services provider, BaoViet.

Companies wishing to join the GCC must first be invited by existing members before they undergo a review by the WEF. The selection criteria include having five years of above-average growth, being a major industry influence within the firm’s home country and have a track record of positive corporate citizenship.

In January, Acleda Bank reported a profit of $18.3 million at the end of the first quarter of this year, down slightly from $18.8 million during the same period in 2013.

It has, however seen four years straight of profit increases, from $26.6 million in 2010, to $77.8 million last year.

So Phonnary, executive vice president and group chief operations officer of Acleda Bank said the acceptance will assist the bank in fostering new partnerships and aid in off-shore expansion plans.

“We hope the new appointment will attract more investors to the company, and more foreign firms to utilise our banking services,” Phonnary said. “Our customer base is not only domestic, it is now many foreigners.”

Acleda Bank has subsidiaries in Laos and Myanmar, and, according to Phonnary, is eyeing expansion into China.

“We are doing a feasibility study and plan into establishing branches in Southern China,” Phonnary said. “It is our long-term plan to expand to China after we strengthen our Myanmar operations,” she added.

Acleda bank started out as a micro-finance NGO in 1993 with the financial assistance of the International Labour Organisation and the UN.

In 2003 they were awarded a commercial banking licesnse and at the end of March Acleda had 251 branches throughout Cambodia.

This year the bank began handling government revenues and expenditures, civil servants payroll and the bank now also accept tax payments as part of the governments public finance reforms.

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