Japan’s Orix to buy stake in Acleda

Japan-based financial services provider Orix Corporation will acquire a little more than six per cent of Cambodia’s largest bank, Acleda, the bank’s president and CEO confirmed yesterday.

The deal, representing the largest investment by a Japanese company in the local banking sector, has already been approved by the National Bank of Cambodia, Acleda president In Channy said, adding that “the process is almost complete”.

Channy described Orix, a leading leasing company in Japan, as “a strategic investor that can bring expertise”.

Orix is buying the stake because of Acleda’s capacity, Channy said, such as the bank’s subsidiaries in the country and its presence in Laos and in Myanmar.

He declined to give further details such as the dollar of the investment or if Orix would take over a specific function at the bank. The official announcement is due today.

A representative at Orix’s investor relations department declined to comment yesterday.

“From our side, we haven’t really released anything on this matter yet,” he said.

Orix business interests extend into a number of sectors, including real estate, insurance and banking. It also owns a professional baseball team in Japan, the Orix Buffalos, according to a Bloomberg profile.

Established in 1964 and headquartered in Tokyo, Orix is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the Osaka Securities Exchange as well as the New York Stock Exchange. For the six months ended September 30, Orix made net income of 80.4 billion yen ($13.2 billion), a 34 per cent increase year on year representing increased profits for four consecutive quarters.

The deal also represents the first investment in Cambodia by a major Japanese financial institution, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, which valued the stake at around $55 million and also detailed four similar moves Orix made recently, including a June purchase of 20 per cent of Philippine power-generation company Global Business Power Corporation.

While its status as a financial group makes it stand out, Orix is not the only Japanese investor throwing millions into Cambodia. According to statistics from the Council for the Development of Cambodia, Japan was the third largest investor in 2012, contributing a total of about $212.3 million.

In 2008, Maruhan Japan Bank Plc became the first fully licensed Japanese-owned bank to open in Cambodia. In July of this year, Mizuho Bank became the third Japanese mega-bank to open a representative office, following Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

Finances and banking, however, represent only a small part of overall Japanese investment. On Sothearos Boulevard, construction is well under way for the Japanese-funded Aeon shopping mall, a $205 million project, which should be finished by mid-2014.

Embassy of Japan counselor Takayoshi Kuromiya said yesterday that investors are generally attracted to lower wage costs in Cambodia and its geographical location.

“Cambodia is very close to Thailand and Vietnam, so we can deliver some of the products to Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi very easy,” he said.

However, he said that Japanese companies, many of which invest in manufacturing, still have stability and safety concerns, alluding to discord after the national elections in July.

“So we hope that the Cambodian government will make a favorable environment for Japanese companies and improve political stability.”

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