Pakistan's best domestic bank 2019: HBL
After a miserable year in 2017, Pakistan’s biggest bank bounced back in 2018 to become, well, bigger still.
HBL took a hit to its bottom line and its reputation when the New York bank authorities fined it $225 million in 2017 for a decade of compliance breaches.
With a new chief executive, ex-JPMorgan alumnus Muhammad Aurangzeb, at the helm to replace Nauman Dar, who left in the wake of the New York trouble, HBL rebounded to report annual profit after tax of PRs12.4 billion ($90 million) for the 2018 calendar year, up 41% from 2017.
HBL said it achieved that number despite what it described as “an ever-evolving landscape of regulatory changes.” That’s a reference to the new broom Aurangzeb has swept through the country’s oldest bank, which was founded before Pakistan became a nation.
Returning to Pakistan after 18 years abroad with JPMorgan and ABN Amro, Aurangzeb vowed to institute the world’s best standards in compliance, which he says is simply sound business practice.
So far, he says, customers seem happy to join him on that journey. Deposits grew 7% in 2018, despite Pakistan’s grim economic environment and a change of government. This year, HBL made PRs1 trillion in advances for the first time; another benchmark, having received double that in annual deposits in 2015 – the first Pakistani bank to achieve both levels. That speaks to how dominant HBL is in Pakistan; 11 million customers accessing 1,700 branches for a market share of 15%.
If Imran Khan’s new government delivers even half what it promises, Aurangzeb says HBL is poised to soar even higher – and put the New York setback well behind it.