Another Private Bank Plans to Change Logo

After three private financial institutions said they would be changing their logos at the behest of the government last week, another major bank said it too would soon undergo rebranding.

“SATHAPANA Bank Plc. is presently in discussion to change its logo in the near future,” according to a statement posted to the commercial bank and microfinance institution’s (MFI) Facebook page on Friday.

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A Sathapana bank branch in Phnom Penh without its logo on Sunday (Matt Surrusco/The Cambodia Daily)

Sathapana’s current logo, which features a golden lion in a blue circle and appeared to have been removed from the company’s website, Facebook page and Norodom Boulervard branch on Sunday, resembles the National Police’s logo.

The company’s statement also says Sathapana is a private institution and a wholly owned subsidiary of Maruhan Japan Group, an entertainment conglomerate.

The Commerce Ministry said on Wednesday that banks and MFIs with branding similar to the insignia of the Finance Ministry or the National Bank of Cambodia would be required to change their logos by March 10.

The directive was the result of government efforts to distance itself from microfinance loans, after unnamed politicians supposedly claimed they could cancel people’s debts if elected, Commerce Ministry spokesman Seung Sophari said last week.

Prime Minister Hun Sen accused the opposition CNRP of promising to cancel debts in 2013, which the party has denied. Mr. Hun Sen said earlier this month that any politicians heard saying they could cancel private debts should be arrested on the spot.

The premier announced a government public-relations blitz on Wednesday, calling on media outlets and mobile phone companies to spread the message that “All microfinance institutions are private, not state-owned.”

A Sathapana secretary confirmed on Sunday that management met with Commerce Ministry officials on Friday about trademark registration including the company’s logo. She referred questions to a company CEO who she said was not available to comment until today.

Sathapana is the country’s second-largest MFI by portfolio outstanding and deposit, its website says. Following a merger between commercial bank Maruhan Japan Bank Plc. and MFI Sathapana Ltd. in April, Sathapana Bank was established with a paid-up capital of $120 million and started with 160 branches, 73 ATMs and 3,458 staff.

Acleda Bank began replacing its signage last week—at an estimated cost of $3.5 million—in order to better differentiate it from the Finance Ministry’s logo. Prasac, another large MFI, said it would cost the company about $1 million to change its branding nationwide. Camma Microfinance Ltd. said on Thursday it had begun replacing their branding, which also featured a golden bird image similar to the Finance Ministry’s logo.

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