Bangladesh's best international bank 2020: Standard Chartered
Anyone searching for Asia’s next boom town could do worse than check Naser Ezaz Bijoy’s whereabouts. His stints in Vietnam, the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates dovetailed nicely with those countries’ transitions from development backwaters to investment darlings.
As fate would have it, Bijoy’s time in Dhaka running Standard Chartered Bank coincides with Bangladesh approaching boom-economy status.
StanChart walks away once again with Asiamoney’s top international honours, not just because of its unrivalled role as trusted gateway to a rather event-rich place, and not just because of its pivotal role in the growth of retail banking in the eighth-most populous nation.
Nor is it just because of the bank’s unique place at the centre of the global payments system, trade and investment flows or in pioneering digital banking.
It is the expertise StanChart brings to an economy growing at 8%.
“This place still has huge, unrealized potential,” Bijoy says. “The domestic economy is quite large and set to grow exponentially.”
The same could be said of StanChart’s Bangladesh operations. Its 2,100-strong staff and 24 branches in seven cities around the nation make it an unparalleled conduit to rural consumers.
Equally intriguing is the deep network of investment corridors that Bijoy’s team built with cash-rich east Asia. In October 2019 alone, for example, year-on-year income from the Japan corridor jumped 95%. The China channel was up 45% that same month. South Korea links also brim with potential.
Such outreach explains why StanChart accounted for 8% of all external trade financing in 2019, 15% of power generation financing, 25% of the onshore dollar clearing business and fully 52% of all SME lending by foreign banks.
And then there are the deals the bank oversaw: the $1.5 billion expansion of Dhaka International Airport’s new terminal 3, the enormous Dhaka MRT line and the four-lane Kalna Bridge project, as well as the 225-kilometre Padma Rail Link.
Bankers aren’t necessarily altruists, but as Bijoy sees it, the better the Bangladesh economy does and the faster per-capita incomes blow past the $2,000 mark, the more business StanChart and its peers will do.
Those peers are upping the pressure on StanChart to maintain its position at the front of the pack. Citi, for example, put up serious competition in 2019. Its role in leading Bangladesh’s largest local-currency loan syndication deal and first-ever international corporate bond give it a credible claim on the award.
For now, though, StanChart is still the leader of the pack.