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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           14  July 2011

Bank forms alliance with largest Muslim organization

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Bank Central Asia has signed a deal that makes it the preferred bank of Nahdlatul Ulama in a move expected to boost its lending business while financing the projects of the country’s largest Islamic organization.

Jahja Setiaatmadja, BCA’s president director, signed the deal on Wednesday with officials from NU, which has about 70 million members nationwide.

Securing the agreement, he said, would help the bank reach its medium- and long-term goals, including boosting remittances and expanding mortgage loans.

“We [will] focus on growing housing loans as high as possible,” Jahja said on Wednesday.

BCA, the country’s biggest bank by market value, aims to raise mortgage lending by 35 percent this year.

Last year, its mortgage lending business increased by 39 percent to Rp 18.3 trillion ($2.1 billion) from Rp 13.2 trillion a year earlier. The 2010 figure represented around 13 percent of the country’s total mortgage market. The Jakarta-based lender, partly owned by American equity firm Farallon Capital Management, also aims to clinch NU customers who are working abroad, the backbone of the lucrative remittance market.

Jahja said the partnership with NU could increase remittances by more than 16-fold to 500,000 transactions per month. BCA typically handles 30,000 remittances a month and charges Rp 40,000 per transaction.

BCA also said the NU deal would be a good opportunity to establish microfinance services, or loans as low as Rp 500,000.

In return, Marsudi Syuhud, NU’s secretary general, said on Wednesday that the bank would finance health, education and entrepreneurship programs for its Muslim membership.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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