Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ANZ, Royal Group could part ways

ANZ, Royal Group could part ways

ANZ, Royal Group could part ways

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) is looking to sever its ties with local partner Royal Group, chief executive officer Mike Smith said yesterday in Hong Kong in remarks that could signal the break-up of one of Cambodia’s biggest banks.

The comments about the two firms’ joint venture in Cambodia, ANZ Royal Bank, come months after audits revealed that the bank had financed ruling party senator Ly Yong Phat’s controversial Phnom Penh Sugar Company, and more than a year after Post reporters found children labouring on the sugar plantation.

Smith’s statement first appeared in the The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday evening, in reference to a split from ANZ’s holdings in Vietnam’s Sacombank in 2012.

“We would like to do the same in Cambodia. I would much rather have a wholly owned business in these places,’’ Smith was quoted as saying.

Smith did not mention child labour or the sugar plantation, though he has said in the past that stakes in Asian banks could be problematic as ANZ receives a portion of the profits while risking its entire reputation, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

ANZ Royal Bank’s CEO Grant Knuckey said that it has always been a long-term strategy for ANZ to be fully owned in any of its locations. He denied that Smith’s comments were related to the Phnom Penh Sugar case.

“There is nothing currently in train in terms of the local business, but the preference for 100 per cent is there as stated,” Knuckey said, referring to the lack of any immediate deal on the table to part ways.

Started in 2005, ANZ Royal Bank is 55 per cent owned by ANZ and 45 per cent owned by Royal Group.

Royal Group chairman and CEO Kith Meng did not immediately respond to a phone call or a text message.

Phnom Penh Sugar Company has been at the centre of a years-long dispute following the forced eviction of hundreds of families from an 8,343-hectare land concession in Kampong Speu province.

ANZ Royal’s involvement in the firm was revealed in two audits instigated by the bank. The second audit in 2013 showed that the company had obtained financing from ANZ Royal, while ignoring 60 per cent of recommendations made in the initial audit.

In January last year, a Post investigation revealed that children as young as seven were being employed to cut sugarcane on the plantation. In response, Phnom Penh Sugar announced a zero-tolerance policy for the practice.

MOST VIEWED

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped