South Asia: Best International Bank in the Region for BRI 2019
Standard Chartered spotted the benefits of China’s Belt and Road Initiative from the start. With 160 years of experience in China and 150 years of history in south Asia – where it is present in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, with 250 branches and 14,000 employees – StanChart saw from the outset that it and the BRI were a natural fit.
During 2018, it was involved in about 100 BRI projects, 30% of which were located in south Asia. Over the course of the year, it signed memoranda of understanding with China Development Bank and, at the annual BRI forum in Beijing in April 2019, with Export-Import Bank of China and China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure), both of which are increasingly active across the region.
StanChart’s strength in Pakistan, China’s chief regional political and economic ally, has enabled it to play an important role in a slew of BRI-related deals over the last six years.
As Beijing’s focus expanded over the last two years to encompass other fast-growing countries in the region, notably Nepal and Bangladesh, StanChart had a strong advantage, thanks to its unparalleled presence in those countries under Bharat Padmanabhan, its regional head of global banking for Asean and south Asia.
In Nepal, it organized a China Day event in April 2019, hosting mainland infrastructure, construction and hotel groups to help explain the BRI to investors, government officials and corporates.
In Bangladesh, the UK lender is working on some of the largest infrastructure deals ever struck by a pro-business government that is keen to lift growth rates and improve economic and financial ties with Beijing.
In August 2018, StanChart opened a project account for China Railway Group, which has been mandated to build a $3.7 billion road-and-rail bridge spanning the Ganges river in Bangladesh. It is providing a full range of inbound and cross-border services, including deposits, payments and foreign exchange, to the state-run group, whose shares are listed in Hong Kong and Shanghai.