Equity fund takes stake in iCare

A Singapore-based private equity fund manager has acquired a significant minority stake in iCare Benefits (Cambodia) Co Ltd, an employee benefits programme offered to enterprises that operate in the Kingdom.

Emerging Markets Investment Advisers (EMIA) said in a press release that it acquired the stake in iCare’s Cambodia operations last week for an undisclosed amount through its $65 million Cambodia Laos Myanmar Development Fund II (CLMDF II). It said the investment in the firm aims to provide “thousands of workers with access to low-cost instalment finance to purchase essential products and services”.

Joshua Morris, chief executive of EMIA, told The Post yesterday that EMIA’s stake in iCare Cambodia will allow the employee-only benefits programme to facilitate operations such as data verification, which greatly reduces the inherent risk in traditional consumer finance companies.

“Our investment will support the expansion of [iCare] business operations and expand their services to more companies and their employees across Cambodia,” Morris said.

According to Morris, employees of companies that are members of iCare are eligible to purchase essential products and services that include mobile phones and white goods – such as domestic home appliances like washing machines, refrigerators and rice cookers – as well as motorcycles and bicycles, under a zero percent interest six-month instalment programme.

“There are no costs or fees for companies to join iCare Benefits, and no costs for workers to enrol,” he said. “Hence, to companies, it is an employee benefit programme that is aimed at building employee retention for iCare’s partner companies.”

He added that unlike a leasing company that charges fees for individuals or employees of a company, the iCare model is able to secure products at discounted prices through its broad network.

Molika Meas, CEO of iCare Benefits Cambodia, said EMIA’s investment in the firm will be “invaluable” for future expansion in the local market.

“EMIA’s industry experience and broad network of relationships will prove invaluable to us as we grow and expand our operations in the future,” she said.

As for EMIA, Morris said this marks the second investment in Cambodia to date under its $65 million CLMDF II fund, bringing to eight its total investment portfolio in the Kingdom when combined with its first private equity fund, which managed $19 million in capital.