Banker Dr In Channy is bursting with joy despite the gloom rocking the financial markets outside the Kingdom. Channy is laughing all the way to his Acleda Bank, which he founded 27 years ago as a young man.
Last Tuesday, the bank’s shares were oversubscribed 3.2 times during a book building exercise ahead of the institution’s initial public offering (IPO), which surprised even market observers, considering the current unpredictable global financial market conditions.
In an interview with The Post last Wednesday, from his impressive office on the 19th floor of the bank’s headquarters, Channy talked passionately about the bank’s future and the pending IPO, which has ignited new interest among industry followers.
“The result was more than triple our projections, thanks to potential investors. Even during these difficult times with the [Covid-19] crisis, they came in [to invest].
“Acleda Bank is a trusted bank, even at the beginning when we started as a microfinance institution, we published our audit statements every year, which were gone through by international auditors.
“And when we became a specialised bank in 2000, we disclosed information to the public – we published audit reports and annual reports.
“We have built the bank on three pillars – transparency, zero tolerance for corruption and always listening to our customers,” said Channy, president and group managing director of Acleda.
The 60-year-old banker’s bold move to list his institution on the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX) – the first commercial bank to do so – despite the ongoing uncertainties in the financial markets, may jump-start the investment-starved domestic stock market, say observers.
Nearly 2,000 Cambodian investors participated in the book building exercise, in which four million shares were floated in the market – clearly signalling strong investor interest in the bank.
“I did not expect this big a number. We planned for only two per cent shares, equal to 8,751,391 shares. Acleda Bank’s stock market [listing] is not directly influenced by the capital market or the global financial market. Acleda Bank focuses on the local market.
“[Generally] when there is a global problem, Cambodia is safe economically. I am confident investors will invest in the Kingdom because when they look at Cambodia they don’t look at it as one country but [a part of] Asean, with 600 million people. Many were concerned about [the partial withdrawal of] EBA but it did not have much impact, and the short-term impact now is the coronavirus, which is impacting everyone, not only Cambodia.
“But Cambodia can expect to gain more from the FTA [free trade agreement] with China, this is key. This will encourage foreign direct investment to increase.
Channy has turned Acleda, a non-government-linked microfinance institution, into a top-tier Cambodian bank with the largest market share for both loans and savings and deposits, nearly 50 per cent respectively. As of February this year, the bank had 405,620 active borrowers and 2.4 million customers with savings and deposits accounts.
The successful entrepreneur is unruffled by the negative noise in the financial markets and confident the planned IPO will be an unprecedented success story, with the bank raising the funds needed to upgrade its digital platforms as planned.
“Our IPO is a Cambodian people’s IPO. I hope when Acleda participates in the capital market, it will become active like the financial market. We have 2.5 million customers, which makes for 50 per cent of the total customers in the banking industry.
“As part of our strategy, we will raise the capital to improve our digital infrastructure, which will include a data centre covering Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. We are setting foot in other countries in Asean without physical expansion,” he noted.
According to the bank’s website, as of last September, Acleda was the largest domestic bank in terms of gross loans – amounting to $3.61 billion, with total equity of $898.56 million – and the second largest in terms of total assets, $6 billion, and total deposits, $4.24 billion.
On the back of such impressive figures, a successful IPO may yet be the pinnacle of Channy’s illustrious banking career.