Thai Group Lease to buy stake in Sri Lanka finance firm for $70 mln

BANGKOK, Oct 3 (Reuters) – Thai motorcycle lessor Group Lease PCL has acquired a 30 percent stake in Sri Lanka’s Commercial Credit and Finance PLC (CCF) for $70 million, the company said on Monday, in its first major expansion outside Southeast Asia.

The acquisition comes a month after it bought a 71.9 percent stake in BG Microfinance Myanmar from the Sri Lankan finance firm to expand into Myanmar, adding to existing operations in the Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia.

Group Lease, part of Japan’s Wedge Holdings Co, has the right to buy the remaining 70 percent in CCF if existing shareholders want to sell the stake, Chairman and Chief Executive Mitsuji Konoshita told a joint news conference.

Group Lease plans to combine its digital finance platform, including electronic payments and insurance, with CCF’s microfinance model to grow the business, Konoshita said.

It expects to begin booking profit from the purchase in the fourth quarter, and CCF is expected to generate profit of $7 million a year, he said.

CCF has assets of $500 million, of which one-fifth is in the microfinance business, and expects a net profit of $22 million this year, CCF Chief Executive Roshan S. Egodage said.

The Thai firm, which is looking to buy more assets, is also buying an additional 28.1 percent in BG Microfinance from CCF to gain complete control in the Mynamar firm, he said.

Thai operations contributed about 40 percent of Group Lease’s profit, while the rest came from foreign operations, mostly from Cambodia, Konoshita said.

With assets of $450 million, Group Lease is one of Thailand’s biggest three motorcycle lessors with a market share of 10-11 percent. It is the market leader in Cambodia and Laos, with shares of 95 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

Group Lease shares surged as much as 6.4 percent to 37.25 baht, outperforming a 0.5 percent gain in the main Thai market.





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