Korean bank to buy control of LOLC’s Cambodian microfinance arm for $ 603.4 m

Saturday, 28 December 2019 00:04 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Korea Herald reports KB Kookmin as saying will close the deal within 3 months, after due diligence and approval from financial authorities in Korea and Cambodia
  • No full disclosure yet for Rs. 108.5 b impending deal by LOLC but share price soars
  • No. 1 microfinance deposit-taking institution in Cambodia offers ROE and ROA of 28.40% and 3.64%, respectively
  • Generated Rs. 13.7 b profit in FY19
  • Has portfolio of $ 2.2 billion, deposit base of $ 1.5 billion and makes significant PBT contribution to LOLC Group’s bottom line


A Korean bank is to buy LOLC’s Cambodian microfinance arm for a staggering $ 603.4 million or Rs. 108.5 billion, subject to regulatory approval.

The Korean firm is KB Kookmin Bank, which said its Board has agreed to buy 70% stake in Cambodia’s PRASAC Microfinance Institution for $ 603.4 million from LOLC.

PRASAC Microfinance is the No. 1 microfinance deposit-taking institution, taking up over 40% of market share in Cambodia with 177 branches.

A report in Korea Herald stated that KB Kookmin will close the deal within three months, after due diligence and approval from financial authorities in Korea and Cambodia.

The deal is expected to allow KB Kookmin to consolidate its consumer banking network in the Southeast Asian nation. Operating six bank branches, KB Kookmin earned preapproval in Cambodia for the acquisition in May. KB Kookmin said it plans to buy the remaining 30% stake in the institution at least two years after the transaction.

PRASAC Microfinance logged a KRW 91.5 billion ($78.7 million) net profit in 2018, up 36.7% on-year, according to KB Financial Group’s regulatory filing.

Investors, apparently seeing new found value and demand, yesterday pushed LOLC shares to third highest gainer, percentage wise. 

LOLC closed at Rs. 145.70, up by Rs. 16.70 (or 13%) whilst it hit an intra-day high of Rs. 148.90. Little over a one million shares changed hands via 1,217 trades for Rs. 149.3 million with bulk of the selling coming from foreign investors. For the week, LOLC gained by Rs. 19 or 15%.

Despite media reports of impending sale as revealed by LOLC Deputy Chairman Ishara Nanayakkara in a Bloomberg interview, LOLC has been less revealing officially.

Following the publication of Bloomberg article in FT, in a filing to the CSE on 12 December, LOLC said upon certain parties indicating their interest in acquiring a stake in PRASAC Microfinance, Cambodia, LOLC has been in the process of exploring possibilities of a sale of whole or part of its holding. In any event, the sale will require prior approval of National Bank of Cambodia.

LOLC Group MD and CEO Kapila Jayawardena said no finality has been reached with regard to the execution of any such transaction. “An announcement will be made to the Exchange if it culminates in a conclusive transaction,” he added. A similar stance was maintained in a fresh disclosure yesterday. 

The report in Korea Herald was published on Thursday (26 December).

The Cambodian operations are part of LOLC’s strategic and profitable diversification in the Southeast Asian region. 

The regional expansion of the Group has delivered extremely strong results in diversifying and balancing the exposure LOLC has in the local market. To this effect, 85% of LOLC pre-tax profit is currently derived from investments in Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Indonesia and Philippines. 

This growth momentum is evident from the LOLC Group’s maiden overseas investment in PRASAC, which has grown to become the largest microfinance institution in the dollarised Cambodian economy. With an ROE and ROA of 28.40% and 3.64%, respectively, a portfolio of $ 2.2 billion, a deposit base of $ 1.5 billion, and a significant profit before tax contribution to the Group’s bottom line, PRASAC offers substantial return on investment in dollar terms through the Group’s 70% holding in the Company. It has a customer base of over 400,000.

Although a relatively new entrant to the Cambodian MFI performers, LOLC Cambodia (LOCAM) has now positioned itself as the most profitable MFI in Cambodia with an ROE of 27.90%, ROA of 4.10%, the fourth largest portfolio and deposit base of $ 564 million and $ 286 million, respectively. 

In less than five years since LOLC’s investment, LOCAM has risen up the ladder in the Cambodia microfinance landscape to be the third most profitable MFI in the country.

PRASAC Microfinance Institution in Cambodia and LOLC Cambodia, stands out as the two largest foreign investments made by LOLC and contributes together 40% to the Group’s top line. PRASAC generated a profit of Rs. 13.7 billion in FY19 while LOLC Cambodia recorded a profit Rs. 3.8 billion.

LOLC also has presence in Myanmar – LOLC Myanmar Microfinance Company Ltd., a Greenfield operation, has grown to be counted as the third-largest among 176 microfinance institutions in the country, with an asset base of $ 52.4 million, portfolio of $ 39.5 million and PBT of $ 2 million within five years of commencing operations in Myanmar. 

The Company has now gained attention from prominent global investors due to its unique business model reflected through the quality portfolio and the growth potential in store with the liberalisation of the Myanmar market.

Extending its microfinance expertise, LOLC also has operations in Indonesia and the Philippines. 

LOLC’s foreign investments in financial services sector account for Rs. 593 billion as total assets in the books of LOLC and have contributed a Profit After Tax of Rs. 17.9 billion to the Group for the year ended 31 March 2019. The lending portfolio of the foreign businesses amounts to Rs. 497 billion with a deposit base of Rs. 311 billion. 

LOLC in its FY19 Annual Report stated that it was a matter of pride that the Group’s overseas expansion has been undertaken purely on the strength of the financial services excellence and knowhow coupled with IT expertise which it exports to its overseas operations.