#Macau promotes multi-destination trips to Indonesian travelers

Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) promoted multi-destination trips to Indonesian travelers through a media session and seminar on Monday.

Held in Jakarta, the event highlighted opportunities for travelers to visit several areas, including Macau, Hong Kong, Guangdong, Guangxi, Pingtan, Qingyuan, Shenzhen, Zhongshan, Zhuhai and Nansha.

The multi-destination trips are designed to attract travelers who want to visit several places in a single trip.

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Hong Kong Tourism Board senior manager trade development for Southeast Asia, Raymond Chan, said that there were many Indonesian travelers visiting Macau and Hong Kong in one journey and sometimes to Shenzhen and China as well, which is one of the reasons why they created the event.

Meanwhile, Betty Fok, MGTO head of destination marketing, said in a press release, “[The event aims] to highlight Macau as the easy connection to Hong Kong and neighboring provinces, such as Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian.”

In regard to visas, Fok explained that Indonesian travelers could enjoy a free visa while traveling to Macau and Hong Kong. As for those wanting to visit Guangdong from Hong Kong, they can use the 144-hour visa facility. However, they will still need to apply for a visa to explore other parts of China, such as Fujian and Guangxi.

Cambodia – Microlender in monster deal

Hong Kong financial giant The Bank of East Asia and Sri Lanka’s LOLC announced on Friday that they have jointly acquired a majority stake in Prasac Microfinance, Cambodia’s largest microfinance institution (MFI) by assets, in what could be the largest acquisition of a Cambodian lender to date.

According to a joint company release, The Bank of East Asia (BEA) and LOLC acquired a controlling share of Prasac by purchasing minority stakes held by Dragon Capital Group Ltd, Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries SA (BIO) and the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO).

The acquisition raises LOLC’s existing holding from 22 percent to 70 percent, with BEA holding 21 percent. Prasac retains the remaining 9 percent stake.

The deal was valued at $186 million by Sri Lankan media. Prasac and its shareholders could not be reached yesterday for confirmation, nor was the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) available to confirm whether it had approved the acquisition.

Prasac is Cambodia’s largest deposit-taking MFI with an asset portfolio of $1.3 billion and over $660 million in deposits, according to the joint statement, which added that the deal would help pave the MFI’s path toward becoming a licensed commercial bank.

Sim Senacheert, CEO of Prasac, was quoted in the release as saying that BEA was a strategic investor that would “further contribute to sustainable economic development and financial inclusion in Cambodia”.

David Li, chairman and chief executive of BEA, said the deal marked the financial group’s first foothold in Cambodia and would help it expand its reach to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

“Through Prasac, our bank will further strengthen its presence in Southeast Asia. This strategic investment will enable us to better capitalise on the opportunities arising from China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiatives’,” he was quoted as saying.

This is not the first time Prasac has worked toward securing a strategic investor, a move widely seen as the central bank’s requirements for commercial bank licence eligibility.

In August 2016, the NBC scuttled a deal between Prasac and South Korean financial giant Woori Bank for a 50 percent stake, claiming that the Korean lender was not one of the preferred bidder’s acknowledged by the independent regulatory body.

Cambodian MFIs have attracted the interest of international investors, with several large mergers and acquisitions announced in recent years. In January 2016, Thailand-based Bank of Ayudhya reached an agreement to acquire the local MFI Hattha Kaksekar – a deal that was valued at upwards of $140 million.

BEA’s stake in Prasac would mark the entry of Hong Kong’s third-largest bank into the Cambodian market. The financial group reported $98.7 billion in consolidated assets as of the end of last year.

Source – PhnomPenhPost

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Cambodia – JC Airlines is almost ready to fly

With its operating licence almost in the bag, JC International Airlines is gearing up to launch passenger service next month with two aircraft and an ambitious expansion plan.

The Cambodian-registered airline, managed by China’s Yunnan Jingcheng Group, the parent firm of China’s Ruili Airlines, expects to launch its first flight on March 17.

Initial service will cover domestic routes, flying between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, according to Cheav Kirirom, the airline’s production manager.

“This is a new brand of airline offering a full range of products and services to passengers, and providing excellent service and comfort, [as well as . . .] reasonable fares and good connections,” he said yesterday.

JC International Airlines has already received two Airbus A320s from Ireland-based air leasing company Avolon. The aircraft, one new and one briefly thrown into service by Air Berlin, will be configured as all-economy class with 180 seats.

According to Kirirom, two additional A320 aircrafts are on order and expected to arrive in June and November, respectively.

“As to plan, we are scheduled to add four aircrafts every year to operate on more prospective routes,” he said.

The additional planes will allow the airline to add international service starting with flights to Ho Chi Minh City, then adding routes to China and ASEAN countries.

Kao Sivorn, general director of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), confirmed that JC International Airlines had acquired two A320s for its upcoming operations, and could expect to receive its air operator’s certificate (AOC) by early next month.

“We are now in the process of checking [the licence application,] which is now in the third phase in accordance with international regulation requirements,” he said.

“We expect it will be done and ready to receive its AOC in March.”

According to an operations plan submitted by the airline to the SSCA, and which differs slightly from details provided yesterday by the airline, JC International Airlines has applied to operate weekly service between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, three flights a week between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, and three flights weekly from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville.

The airline has also applied to fly three times a week between Phnom Penh and Kuala Lumpur, three times a week to Singapore, four times a week to Hong Kong and once weekly to Bangkok.

“The main target of JC is Chinese passengers,” said Sivorn, adding that the airline’s management has laid out plans to operate a fleet of 20 Airbus aircraft by 2020.

JC International Airlines registered at the Ministry of Commerce in June 2014 with $1 million in registered capital. Its total investment is $100 million, according to Sivorn.

“Investment in airlines provides a lot of benefits to all sectors and promotes economic growth,” he said.

Source: PhnomPenhPost