South Asia: Best Local Bank in the Region for BRI 2017
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South Asia: Best Local Bank in the Region for BRI 2017

National Development Bank

Sri Lanka, with its strong manufacturing and ports sectors, is an important way station on the Maritime Silk Road, boasting strong and long-standing trade links with both China and the west.

In recent years, the relationship between Beijing and Colombo has blossomed, with China stumping up capital to help Sri Lanka build much-needed infrastructure from highways and rail lines to new airport facilities. Colombo has embraced the new relationship, hosting the Guangxi, China-Sri Lanka Economic Cooperation Forum in May.

A few Sri Lanka-based lenders were quick to see the potential in the Belt and Road Initiative, but none more so than National Development Bank (NDB), which set up its first Chinese office in 2014, a dedicated service catering to Sri Lanka’s growing Chinese business community and staffed by Mandarin-speaking relationship managers.

NDB, under CEO Dimantha Seneviratne, now boasts 16 correspondent banking relationships with mainland financial institutions, and was the first Sri Lankan lender to roll out a renminbi-denominated transactional service.

Income has grown accordingly, with NDB’s China business segment generating $670,000 in revenues in 2016, up from $18,000 in 2014, while the deposit base expanded 360% over the same period.

NDB’s China portfolio comprises 169 customer accounts and 117 corporate accounts, with business now generating its own momentum thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations by satisfied clients.

“It is with a sense of pride that we state that Chinese customers now come in search of NDB for our banking services,” the Sri Lankan lender says.

Its client roster includes many of the largest Beijing-controlled industrial groups, including China State Construction Engineering Corporation, Shanxi Construction Engineering, Yunnan Construction Engineering and Yunnan Lifan Junma Vehicle. Among the many BRI-related projects that NDB is working on are Colombo Port City and the Southern Expressway linking Colombo with the southern cities of Galle and Matara.