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Monday, June 18, 2012

Cambodia may give villages to Vietnam

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, June 18 (UPI) -- Cambodia may have to cede two villages to Vietnam as a compromise while officials work to demarcate borders with Vietnam and Laos, a Cambodian official said.

The borders were renegotiated in 1985 but Cambodia is seeking to retain Thlok Trach and Anlung Chrey in Kampong Cham province. Va Kimhong, senior minister in charge of the Cambodian Border Affairs Committee, said the government would have to compromise to keep the two villages.

The Phnom Penh Post said Va Kimhong did not specify which villages would be given to Vietnam in exchange for retaining the territory.  Alleged Vietnamese encroachment on Cambodian territory stirs strong passions in Cambodia, the newspaper said.

A spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party says Cambodia shouldn't have to cede any territory, alleging the Vietnamese claim was based on an unacceptable 2005 supplementary treaty to the 1985 Treaty on Delimitation of National Boundaries between the two countries, the newspaper said. . Read more!

CIMB aiming to be top 10 in Cambodia

KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Bank plc, which aims to be among the top 10 banks in Cambodia over the next five years, is targeting more than US$100mil (RM317mil ) in deposits and US$90mil (RM285mil) in total loan size by year-end.

Its deputy general manager and head of commercial banking Bun Yin said these targets were commendable judging from the fact that CIMB started operations more than a year ago and was a relatively new player in the Cambodian banking landscape.

In an interview with StarBiz on the sidelines of the CIMB Asean Conference recently, Bun said total deposits for the first three months of this year had actually exceeded the US$100mil mark and was confident loans and deposits would grow at a strong rate.

He said deposits was up by 54% in the first quarter of this year compared with the whole of last year, adding that loan for the same period rose by about 17%.

He attributed the encouraging growth to strong demand for loans as well as the ability of CIMB as a regional banking group with presence in the region to attract business from countries like Malaysia and Thailand which have investments in Cambodia.

Bun said there were many Thailand and Malaysia-based companies operating in Cambodia. Since CIMB also has a presence in these countries, it can leverage on its regional network and provide funding for these companies.

As for net interest margin (NIM) growth, he said it was healthy with margins hovering between 4% and 5%. NIM is a measure of the difference between the interest income generated by banks and the amount of interest paid out to depositors.

CIMB Bank plc started operations in Cambodia in November 2010 and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. Its areas of focus in Cambodia are the small and medium enterprise and in retail banking which Bun feels it has good potential for further growth.

He said the bank would also look into enhancing its technology infrastructure in terms of electronic banking, automated teller machines (ATMs) and cash deposit machines. Introducing sophisticated products is another area which the bank would continue to look into to meet the demand and needs of its customers.

The dual currency investment product is one such example and had been well received. Bun admitted that it was a challenge for a country like Cambodia to embrace new technology and new products compared with traditional banking involving deposits and loans.

Towards this end, he said providing sufficient training to the bank's staff in educating customers to understand the benefits of the products had helped in addressing some of these challenges. The bank aims to become the top 10 bank in the country over the next five years from the current 15th out of 30 banks there.

Unlike some standalone banks, CIMB has the advantage of being a regional group and could provide support from various fronts human resource/expertise, businesses and customer base to its sister companies via its network in Asean.

Apart from this, with a common platform, for example allowing CIMB customers to conduct their ATM transactions within the region where the group operates was a plus point that would put the company on a stronger footing moving forward, he said.

As for competition, Bun said the market was still largely untapped. “With a population of about 14 million, out of which close to two million have a bank account, and with 30 banks in the market, there is plenty of room to grow,” he said.

The country, he said, offered good incentives for banks. Foreign banks are allowed to hold 100% equity stake in Cambodia banks and without the need for a joint venture, with no restrictions on repatriations of dividends imposed.

Currency risk was also minimal as transactions were in US dollars and hence less fluctuations in exchange rates, he said.  He expected the bank to open four more branches this year, bringing the total to 11.

“CIMB Bank in Cambodia will be one of the key players for the group in the region but this will depend on market conditions,” he added. . Read more!