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Pakistan's best international bank 2018: Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered

In an admittedly limited field of foreign banks in Pakistan, Shazad Dada’s Standard Chartered Pakistan continues to have few peers. Assets crossed PRs500 billion ($4.5 billion) during the year as pre-tax profits fell 12% to PRs13.5 billion, from PRs15.3 billion. Dada blames this on tighter margins and re-pricing within his investment portfolio, in a “challenging” market.

As margins were squeezed, Dada says he focused on bringing administrative costs down. They were 4% less than last year. On liabilities, StanChart’s total deposits grew 3%, while current and saving accounts grew 1%.

Though HSBC and Barclays, among others, have abandoned Pakistan, StanChart remains a big player in a country that it has been in for more than 150 years. Indeed, with StanChart’s 101-strong branch network and a state-of-the-art mobile platform, Dada sees local banks as his main competitors over internationals.

But for how much longer? Pakistan may have become off-limits for most Western banks, but the Chinese are arriving in numbers, following China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Belt & Road business generated and financed in Beijing.

This year saw two of the world’s biggest banks – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China, both of which are state-owned – extend their networks in Pakistan, both boasting support from the Pakistan government to do so. Both are rumoured to be looking at local acquisitions.