Woori Bank, one of South Korea’s leading commercial banks, is set to inject an additional $100 million into its Cambodian operations next year. This “strategic” move is in response to a notable increase in loan demand, aimed at stimulating business activities that slowed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yun Seog-mo, head of the bank’s global business division, said during an October 25 press conference that the bank seeks to derive up to 25 per cent of its net profit from global sales by 2030.

“Woori Bank’s global division reported a net profit of $340 million last year. We’ve seen an average annual asset growth of 9 per cent over the past three years,” he said.

“We’re aiming to sustain this growth and further it through strategic mergers and acquisitions by 2030,” he said, adding that last year, the bank’s overseas profit constituted 15.4 per cent of its total net profit.

According to Seog-mo, the bank has ambitious plans to distribute a total of $500 million across its Southeast Asian branches in the first half of 2024: allocating $200 million each for its units in Indonesia and Vietnam, and $100 million for Cambodia.

He noted that these units collectively represented 43 per cent of the bank’s overseas net profit in the previous year.

With these investments, he envisions the bank’s Indonesian unit to rank among the top 10 local banks, its Vietnamese branch to emerge as a leading foreign bank and its Cambodian operation to be within the top five local banks.

As of the end of September, Woori reached a global presence encompassing 466 branches in 24 countries, as reported by the bank.

According to the National Bank of Cambodia’s (NBC) 2022 annual report, the banking system included 59 commercial banks, nine specialised banks, five deposit-taking microfinance institutions, 82 non-deposit-taking microfinance institutions, 16 financial leasing institutions, 223 rural credit institutions, six third-party processors, 35 payment service institutions, one credit reporting service provider, six representative offices and 2,866 money changers.

Woori said on its website that it has marked significant milestones in Cambodia over the past 30 years. It initiated its funding programme in 1990 and received its official licence to operate as a microfinance institution (MFI) in 2004.

The licence was updated in 2011, enabling it to function as a micro-deposit-taking financial institution.

To expand its reach, Woori merged with Woori Finance Cambodia Plc in 2020. Following approval from the NBC in November 2021, Woori launched as a commercial bank in January 2022, offering a comprehensive range of commercial banking products and services.

As of June 2023, the bank operates 140 branches nationwide, employs over 4,200 staff, and serves more than 437,000 customers. It boasts total assets of $1.4 billion, a loan portfolio of $1.18 billion and deposit savings of up to $355 million, according to their official website.

According to the NBC, banks and financial institutions in Cambodia held 15.5 million deposit accounts and 3.7 million borrowers’ accounts, as of December 2022.