The Industrial Bank of Korea plans to open new branches in Cambodia from 2020 onwards amid a broader push by the state-owned lender to expand in Southeast Asia with plans to back a growing number of Korean firms setting up shop in the region.
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Chairman Kim Do-jin said yesterday that plans to “support Korean companies in Cambodia” are a move that would also “contribute to the economic development” of the fast-growing nation.
There are about 500 Korean companies in Cambodia, news reports suggest, a potential market opportunity for the Industrial Bank that mainly serves small and medium-sized enterprises.
The lender will “develop diverse products for start-ups and smaller enterprises with the goal of contributing to the national economy and creating jobs,” it said in a statement.
Mr Kim was speaking at an event at Raffles Hotel Le Royal marking the opening of the bank’s first branch in Phnom Penh. A presentation highlighted plans for an “Industrial Bank of Korea Belt” spanning Asia and parts of Europe.
Rath Sovannarak, director-general of the National Bank of Cambodia’s Banking Supervision Department, presented the bank with its license.
The Industrial Bank of Korea is the third Korean bank to obtain the commercial bank license from the NBC after a three-year process.
In February this year, the lender announced a plan to buy a majority stake in Indonesia-listed Bank Agris, giving it access to Southeast Asia’s most populous nation and a market of over 1,000 Korean companies.
The bank already has a presence in Vietnam where it operates a branch in Ho Chi Minh city and Hanoi.
South Korean banks are ramping up their presence in Southeast Asia, seeking to capitalise on attractive economic growth prospects and cheaper labour costs, which are drawing investment from across the world.
Korea-owned Shinhan Bank became the top foreign bank in Vietnam by assets recently, barely a year after it acquired ANZ Vietnam’s retail unit.