Woori Bank has decided to acquire Cambodia’s microfinance institution Malis Finance for 5 billion won ($4.9 million) to accelerate its global expansion.
The Financial Services Commission approved Woori Bank’s acquisition of Malis on Wednesday, according to bank officials.
The purchase of the Cambodia-based firm marks the bank’s second attempt at making inroads into the Southeast Asian country after its failure in 2008 due to the global financial crisis.
“It’s difficult to develop a (stable) business model in Cambodia due to its low levels of economic development, so we’ve decided to first gain more expertise in the market by trying our hand in the microfinancing business and gradually move onto banking,” said one high-ranking Woori Bank official.
The deal still needs to pass screening by Cambodian regulators to gain their approval before it can be finalized, according to Woori Bank spokespeople.
They said they expected to receive the green light in the second half of the year.
Malis Finance is one of the 35 microfinance institutions in Cambodia that offers support for lower-income customers.
The company was established in 2011 with registered capital of $2.25 million, of which its 88.89 percent is shared by Korean-American investor Cho Sung-jae. About 1.11 percent is owned by Dongkwang Pharmaceutical Company in South Korea.
Woori’s purchase of Malis is seen as part of its effort to speed up global business expansion. Earlier this month, Woori opened the first South Korean bank in Dubai and plans to launch more branches in the Middle East and Africa.
In May, Woori received final approval to acquire Indonesia’s Bank Saudara. The merger between the two banks is to be finalized within this year, officials said.
By Suk Gee-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)