Acleda Bank delivered a New Year's surprise Thursday, announcing it obtained
permission from the government of Laos to open a commercial bank there in
Officials of Acleda called the expansion to Laos just the first of
a regional expansion. Investment in other countries is likely to
Lao PDR has one of the most underdeveloped economies in Asia, but
like Cambodia, its finance and banking sector is developing and it is working
with help from the Korea Exchange to set up a stock market. The stock market is
expected to open in 2010, a year after Cambodia's stock market, with state run
In Channy, Acleda Bank president and CEO, said the
banking market in Laos is smaller than Cambodia with less
"Most commercial banks are operating in the capital city,
Vientiane, and they are now starting expansion to the provinces."
called the expansion the result of a three-year strategic plan he presented to
the Board of Directors in 2005 to build Acleda into a regional player. He said
Acleda is studying the possibility of entering Vietnam and China, as well as
other Asian markets.
He said the Lao bank will use the same retail
banking models, including electronic banking services and online MIS platforms,
that were developed for Cambodia.
Vann Saroeun, who will manage Acleda
Bank Lao Ltd., said plans are to expand to the provinces as soon as possible
starting with Sovannakhet and Pakse.
Saroeun managed Acleda operations in
Siem Reap and Uddar Meancheay since 1993.
He said the microfinance
industry in Laos is dominated by development funds in the north.
is only one microfinance bank but there are many many development funds. We have
a different target."
The bank will begin operations at the beginning of
June, said Saroeun. He said recruitment will begin in January for a staff of
"It's a very long process. We have to advertise by radio and tv
and newspapers." Saroeun has taken a crash course in the Lao
Acleda, which now has $450 million in assets, started
operations as a microfinance NGO in 1993 making loans to the poor.
up captial for the Laos bank is $10.5 million.