Sri Lanka's best international bank 2018: HSBC
Three foreign lenders stand out on this teardrop-shaped island: HSBC, Standard Chartered and Citi. The latter two have solid and long-standing onshore operations, but neither can compete with the strength of HSBC, which first opened its doors in Sri Lanka way back in 1892.
The British lender is not as omnipresent as it is in, say, the UK or Hong Kong. Rather, it tends to cherry-pick where and in which sectors to specialize and dominate. So it focuses on large local corporates and global multinationals doing business here, on high-end retail via its HSBC Premier service, and on its credit card business, where it is market leader with a 25% market share in card receivables and spend.
Behind the scenes, HSBC, led by country chief executive Mark Prothero, is also an important financial institution. It is the only bank to partner with the Sri Lankan government on every one of its 11 post-2007 sovereign bond sales – a list that includes a $1.5 billion 10-year print, completed in May 2017, which involved HSBC acting as joint lead manager, bookrunner and ratings adviser.
It is also a large provider of funding to key infrastructure projects, including those plugged into China’s Belt and Road Initiative. A notable transaction was the $44 million expansion of Bandaranaike International Airport, with HSBC acting as sole arranger, agent and security agent on a deal that aims to double the airport’s handling capacity in five years.