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South Asia

Bangladesh: Eastern Bank eyes growth after Covid

During the pandemic, Bangladesh’s Eastern Bank proved that it was in safe hands. The company’s chief executive is now turning his attention back to growth.

By Jonathan Breen

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Eastern Bank is on the look-out for new business. The bank, considered by rivals in Bangladesh to be quite a conservative institution, has come out of the pandemic with money to spend – and an eye for a bargain in an overcrowded market.

The bank’s management wants to find new ways to put its cash to work – either by increasing lending to projects already underway, or even making the most of depressed acquisition prices to snap up a good deal.

“We are looking for an opportunity to buy a local bank in Bangladesh, if that bank fits with our culture,” says Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director and chief executive of Eastern Bank. “We are strong enough to acquire a local bank.”

Bangladesh’s banking industry consists of 60 so-called scheduled banks (defined as banks listed under the Bangladesh Bank Order, 1972), which include state-owned, private sector and foreign institutions, as well as five non-scheduled banks. The latter are established with a specific objective, such as microfinance lending, and do not provide broader banking services.

We are looking for an opportunity to buy a local bank in Bangladesh, if that bank fits with our culture
Ali Reza Iftekhar, Eastern Bank

Eastern Bank, founded in 1992, is one of the country’s 42 private commercial banks, and it is now looking down the list of scheduled banks for a potential acquisition target.

“There

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