"Harvest Times" for Group Lease

29 Sep 2014

After continuous expansion during the economic “bad times” in the first half of this year, SET-listed motorcycle leasing company Group Lease Public Company Limited (GL) now expects to make substantial financial gains during the second half of 2014 in light of the current economic recovery. And despite the dismal results in Q1 and Q2, all-year profits are targeted to surpass that of last year.

“Our strategy has been quite clear. While other finance firms might downsize their operations during times of economic hardship, we have continued to expand throughout this year at the rate of 20-30%,” stated GL chairman and chief executive officer Mitsuji Konoshita. “Now that the economy is coming back, we are harvesting the fruits,” he added.

The anticipated jump in profits in Q3 and Q4 is coming as the results of positive developments in Thailand and substantial business growth from GL’s operations in Cambodia.

In Thailand, GL’s outstanding loans portfolio was given a major boost following the consolidation of Tanabun which was taken over by GL in June. Adding that to GL’s own business expansion since the start of 2014, the aggregate loans portfolio now totaled more than 6 billion baht, with about 200,000 customers. The combined portfolio is projected to top 7 billion baht by year-end.

Across the eastern border in Cambodia, GL’s wholly-owned subsidiary GL Finance (GLF) recently celebrated the achievement of 10,000 customers. “The Cambodian markets carry very strong growth potentials . We have the exclusive rights to finance the most popular motorcycle brand, HONDA , and we have established a comprehensive sales network with dealers nationwide,” Mr. Konoshita stated.

Operations in Cambodia reached the break-even point since mid-year and turned profitable starting in Q3. Mr. Konoshita said GLF is now doing about 1,200 units per month, which is expected to rise steadily to 3,000 units by year-end and further up to 5,000 units next year. Because of GL’s exclusive rights with HONDA and Cambodia’s virgin-market conditions, Mr. Konoshita has projected that the Cambodian operations will make significant contributions to the group and profits from Cambodia could match that of Thailand in a few years.

GL reported peak performance in 2012 when net profits topped 357.4 million baht, though this dropped to 240.3 million baht last year. Profits during the first half this year were a dismal 17.7 million baht owing to substantial provisions for bad and doubtful debts which were necessitated by the country’s economic slowdown.

Mr. Konoshita now expects profits to turn around significantly in the second half of this year due to improvements in Thailand’s grassroots economy which forms the main base of GL’s clients. Large portions of the provisions made earlier can now be reverted back to profits after over-due clients return to pay installments on time. Therefore, the company has targeted that all-year 2014 profits would surpass that of last year.

Meanwhile, GL is awaiting a license from the Lao central bank and expects to open its business in Laos possibly within this year. Mr. Konoshita stated that he is also looking at takeover prospects elsewhere in ASEAN, particularly in Indonesia and Vietnam as part of GL’s broader corporate vision to become the leading ASEAN finance firm.