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Bangladesh's best corporate and investment bank 2020: Eastern Bank

Eastern Bank

Ali Reza Iftekhar, MD & CEO, Eastern Bank.jpg
Ali Reza Iftekhar, Eastern Bank

No surprise here for regular Asiamoney readers. Although Eastern Bank was incorporated in 1992, its run as Bangladesh’s one-stop solution for corporate customers dates back to 2002. Since then, it has consistently buttressed its reputation for innovative products and services, a quality portfolio and sustainable growth.

It is sometimes hard to discern where Eastern Bank ends and a variety of industries begin. The institution boasts unparalleled reach into agriculture, aviation, cement, energy, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, power, telecommunications, ready-made garments, textiles, the list goes on.

The bank’s structured finance division has long played a pioneering role in offering products that prod peers to raise their games, too. Now, the unit is championing financing options in energy efficiency, including sustainable and green initiatives. And 2019 was a banner year in these and other segments.

Over the last year, Eastern Bank arranged a $78 million syndicated term loan for Midland East Power, a $55 million deal for Bangla Trac Power, a $25 million transaction to increase Butterfly Manufacturing’s energy efficiency, as well as a $10 million loan so that Eco Ceramics Industries can go green.

Eastern teamed up with the Asian Development Bank on a $20 million credit facility and a revolving credit scheme for $100 million. It also signed deals with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation and its sister institution Islamic Development Bank.

Steady growth in its regional branch network consistently pulls in more business. The trade offices it has opened in China and India add to a network that stretches from Hong Kong to Myanmar. Under chief executive Ali Reza Iftekhar, Eastern Bank has entered fintech partnerships from Singapore to Dubai.

The 9.14% rise in net interest income stacks up well against peers and speaks to the overall success of the strategy. So does the 19.6% jump in returns on average equity, 10.8% growth in loans and 20.3% rise in deposits. The bank’s non-performing loan ratio is 3.2%, versus 4.36% in 2014.

Growth areas in the year ahead include onshore agent banking services, for which the bank won central bank approval in 2018. Supply-chain financing also shows promise.

Coupled with one of Bangladesh’s strongest balance sheets, these and myriad other opportunities beckon as Bangladesh opens to a fast globalizing world.

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