GL Expanding to 20 Countries in 2017

04 Jan 2017

In its quest to become a “global” company, SET-listed digital finance firm Group Lease Public Company Limited (GL) is embarking on another major expansion program in 2017 that will see its fast-growing model of digital-finance business extending from Asia to Africa and Eastern Europe. The target is to expand its corporate footprint from seven countries in Asia at present to 20 countries worldwide this year.

“Our model of digital-finance platform can apply to any countries. That is why we can expand very fast,” GL chairman and chief executive officer Mitsuji Konoshita stated. Having just returned from visiting South African, Mr. Konoshita said he saw enormous growth potentials in Africa as a whole as well as the emerging economies in Eastern Europe.

From its home base in Thailand, GL has expanded to six other countries in Asia – namely Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. According to Mr. Konoshita, the target this year is to expand GL’s type of consumer finance blending with IT business to 13 more countries in Africa and Eastern Europe, thus boosting GL’s total worldwide corporate presence to 20 countries.

Under Mr. Konoshita’s chairmanship, GL has been particularly successful in expanding to the booming markets in the ASEAN region in recent years. Aided by an efficient and cost-effective digital finance platform developed by GL’s own IT team, profits have continued to climb steadily.

The 260.41 million baht net profits in Q3 2016 marked the eighth consecutive quarter of record-high profits and raised total nine-month profits last year to 738 million baht. Given the continuous robust growth of the Cambodian market and the huge growth potentials of the relatively untapped market in Indonesia, senior executives are confident that quarterly profits will continue to break new records from here on.

GL’s shareholders in early December gave their consent to the company’s plans to acquire 29.99% of Commercial Credit & Finance PLC (CCF), a highly profitable finance company listed on the Sri Lanka stock exchange, and full ownership of BG Microfinance Myanmar (BGMM), a microfinance firm in the newly emerging and booming market of Myanmar.

These acquisitions – coupled with the recent entry into Indonesia, the largest market in ASEAN with more than 250 million population — were part of an aggressive expansion plan that GL’s senior executives described as the “Great Leap Forward”.

A combination of organic growth (such as the highly successful businesses in Cambodia and, more recently, Indonesia) plus mergers and acquisitions (such as the CCF and BGMM deals) will drive this new phase of major expansion.

Company executives are bullish on the CCF acquisition since it is a well-managed and highly profitable company. CCF has projected to generate net profits of US$22 million this year, rising to about US$30 million next year. Having completed the 29.99% acquisition of CCF, GL will start consolidating its share of the CCF profits in Q4 of 2016.

They are now projecting that profits in 2017 will further double from the anticipated 1 billion baht in 2016 – thanks to profit contributions from the recent acquisitions plus additional revenues from other existing operations in the region.

Looking ahead, GL’s chairman Mr. Konoshita said the “Great Leap Forward” strategy will see the company expanding its corporate outreach from Asia to Africa and Eastern Europe to pursue its quest to become a truly “global” company.

He added that he recently visited South Africa, the center of the African continent, and was very impressed by the economic dynamism there. Likewise, he also foresaw huge growth potentials in various emerging economies in Eastern Europe.

Unlike the traditional financial institutions which tend to focus on cities and developed urban areas, GL has specifically targeted the mass population in the rural countryside, or the grassroots people who have emerged from the poverty line and now can afford some modern amenities such as motorcycles, agricultural machinery or electrical appliances to improve their economic livelihood and quality of life.

By blending high-margin consumer financing with efficient but low-cost IT, GL has been able to score rapid business expansion with high profitability. The end objective is to become a global company serving some 2.5 billion clients.