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S Korea’s Woori Bank accelerates expansion in Cambodia

Kim Bo-eun / Korea Times Share:
WB Finances' headquarters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Courtesy of Woori Bank/Korea Times

South Korea’s Woori Bank said Sunday it has integrated two of its subsidiaries in Cambodia, as a means to grow into a leading financial firm in the Southeast Asian country.

According to the bank, it received approval from the Cambodian financial authorities to merge Woori Finance Cambodia, a micro finance institution, into WB Finance, Woori’s savings bank unit there.

The merger made Woori’s Cambodian unit the fifth largest among savings banks in the Southeast Asian country in terms of total assets and earnings. Woori plans to turn WB Finance into a commercial bank in the long term.

“In the mid- to long-term, we plan to make WB Finance a commercial bank offering comprehensive financial services in Cambodia,” a Woori Bank official said.

Woori said it plans to expand retail sales based on the merger. The bank plans to build partnerships with fintech and platform businesses to offer customers better accessibility to financial services, and set up a credit rating system to offer products through non-face-to-face services.

Woori entered Cambodia by taking over micro finance institution Malis in July 2014 and renaming it Woori Finance Cambodia. The unit’s net profit surged 14 times in the five years since the acquisition.

Woori took over the savings bank Vision Fund in June 2018, to expand its retail sales base. WB Finance has 116 sales outlets in Cambodia, and its total assets grew 60 percent in a year following its acquisition.

Woori Bank’s net profit generated in Cambodia jumped to $17 million in 2019 from $4 million in 2017.

The latest development in Cambodia is part of Woori’s globalization drive to increase its revenue from overseas subsidiaries in fast-growing economies such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

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