Leopard, Partners, Buying 1.5% of Acleda Bank

The private equity fund Leopard Capital and two partners have entered into an agreement to purchase a 1.46 percent stake in Acleda Bank from the Acleda Staff Association for an undisclosed sum, Leopard announced.

The ASA, comprised of about 4,000 of the company’s 7,000 employees, will sell 7.7 percent of its privately held 19 percent stake in the bank in a deal that is expected to be completed this month, said Leopard Capital CEO Douglas Clayton.

“We’ve been trying find a way to invest in Acleda Bank ever since we first started our fund so it has taken a while,” Mr Clayton said. “It’s one of the few regional companies that is turning into a regional multi-national.”

Mr Clayton said Leopard, which has $34.1 million and launched in 2008, arranged the deal with two foreign investors who have also invested in Leopard. He would not disclose the amount of the sale or the names of the two private partners, but said that Leopard will own the majority of the stake.

“We think the financial sector is one of the core investment sectors in Cambodia,” he said.

According to Acleda financial data, Acleda ended 2009 with total assets of $905 million as profits dropped 49 percent to $9.9 million. There are now more than 230 Acleda Bank offices and branches in all Cambodian provinces and the bank has 12 offices in Laos where the company expanded in 2008.

Svay Hay, chairman of the ASA, said that the sale will help expand the ASA internal stock market which allows members to buy and sell their stock among themselves.

With an eye towards Cambodian stock market’s launch, attracting and learning from private investors such as Leopard will also help ASA members in future external sales of their sizable holdings in Acleda.

“We want to look for more partners who have the knowledge and experience to enlarge this activity,” he said, adding that the ASA will gain more stock as the company grows.

The sealing of the deal with Leopard will come at around the same time that the 175-year-old multi-national conglomerate Jardine Matheson is expected to finish purchasing a 12.25 stake in Acleda from the Dutch government’s Netherlands Development Finance Company.

John Brinsden, vice-president of Acleda, said the private sale to Jardine and Leopard will create momentum for the company should it need to sell stock to create capital.

“It opens so many opportunities to open up capital when we need it,” he said.

The purchase of the stake will be the sixth investment for Leopard which has already invested $13.8 million.

According to its Website, Leopard invested $5 million in a bridging loan used by The Royal Group to buy out its partner Millicom in their joint-venture, the mobile telephone company MobiTel. It has invested $4 million in the development of a rice plantation, another $2 million for a 55 percent stake in a new boutique beer company to be called Kingdom Breweries.

It has invested $1.5 million in a Siem Reap real estate project, and another $1.3 million in a power transmission station, according to its website.


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