NBC Confirms Interest From French Bank

National Bank of Cambodia Director-General Tal Nay Im confirmed yesterday that French bank BRED Banque Populaire was considering expanding its operations to Cambodia.

Ms Nay Im said she had heard the French bank was looking at its options in Cambodia, but added she had not yet been in contact with the bank’s officials.

The French Embassy said outgoing Ambassador Jean-Francois Desmazieres and Prime Minister Hun Sen discussed a French bank’s interest in the country when they met Monday, but declined to name the bank because discussions with the government were still preliminary.

With 27 commercial banks already operating in the country, many in the industry fear the sector is already oversaturated.

A new regulation will require banks to hold at least $37.5 million in capital reserves by the end of this year in a bid to strengthen the sector.

Earlier this year, ANZ Royal Bank CEO Stephen Higgins said the hefty reserve standard would make larger international banks think twice about opening their doors here.

This week, he said the country still had all the banks in could handle.

“Cambodia does not need more banks,” he said by e-mail.

“If any more do come, he added, “hopefully they will be required to acquire an existing bank license.”

Ms Nay Im, however, was more welcoming.

“There are many banks, but we need more,” she said, adding that good banks were always welcome in Cambodia.

“They do fact-finding and analysis,” Ms Nay Im said. “If they decide to come, they think they can [make] a profit here.”

If BRED does finally decide to come to Cambodia, she said it would be only the second Western bank to do so, after ANZ Royal, a subsidiary of Australia’s ANZ Bank.

Officials from BRED could not be reached for comment yesterday.

According to its website, BRED is the largest regional bank in the Banque Populaire Group, with 341 billion euros (about $477 billion) in capital and 72 of its 320 branches located outside of France.


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