EBL: a story of rip-roaring successes

Dhaka,  Tue,  26 September 2017
Published : 16 Aug 2017, 21:49:40

EBL: a story of rip-roaring successes

MD speaks to mark the bank's 25th anniversary
Special Correspondent

Eastern Bank Ltd (EBL) will spread its network across the regional countries to showcase Bangladesh's growing corporate strength.

"We will open full-fledged branches in India (Kolkata and Guwahati), representative offices in China in coming months," Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director & CEO of EBL told a selected number of journalists in his office recently to mark the completion of 24 years of the leading PCB.

The bank turns 25 on August 16.

EBL: a story of rip-roaring successes"The phenomenal response of our first foreign subsidiary in Hong Kong that began its operation in 2013 inspired us to explore new territory where we can offer our quality banking services to support business growth of Bangladesh. We also have a representative office in operation in Myanmar" the EBL MD said.

"As the successor of BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commerce International), we began our journey not from zero but from negative capital in 1992, but within two decades we have emerged as one of the top financial institutions in the country

 "The quintessential ability to innovate and keep pace with the fast changing world made EBL the most valuable financial brand in Bangladesh," said Iftekhar, who is also a former chairman of ABB (Association of Bankers, Bangladesh).

"We introduced many of the tech-savvy products in the market 15 years back and many of the PCBs are now following us."

"The rating by a top global agency like Moody's in March 2016 was a landmark in our journey to excellence. Moody's assigned us Ba3 rating with stable outlook and reaffirmed the same in 2017. This is equivalent to sovereign rating of Bangladesh. EBL is the first company in the country to achieve this commendable feat," said Iftekhar, an aficionado on financial discipline.

"Our winning run at Asian Banker Retail Banking Excellence Award for five consecutive years since 2013 is a mark of our excellence in service delivery. Our accolade of the Best Bank in Bangladesh for back to back two years, 2016-17, from prestigious Euromoney magazine is recognition of our passion for performance. And our 2016 PCI DSS certification will aid us in securely setting up the process of card businesses and payments with the prime purpose of reducing card fraud activities," Iftekhar said confidently.

"In 2017 the jury of FinanceAsia conferred EBL the Best Bank in Bangladesh for its governance, prudence, and growth. It also referred EBL's depleting NPL ratio as mark of health. In 2016 at 2.69 per cent we kept the ratio well below 3.0 per cent with our prudential risk management. We at EBL are not going to rest on our laurels and strive to achieve new grounds and highs through leveraging our core strengths in different areas of functioning. As we are observing our silver jubilee this year we would like to make it special in every way possible," said the seasoned banker.

"It is a happy coincidence that in our silver jubilee year we have won all top international awards including the Asiamoney Best Corporate and Investment Bank in Bangladesh in 2017."    

Talking about default culture, Iftekhar said he supports the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism as a good recovery tool as the existing legal procedure is very time-consuming and costly.

"We will also place a proposal to BB to allow a company who will buy the stuck-up loan to relieve banks from the unrecovered loans," the ex-ABB chief said.

Citing the reasons of growing NPLs of Bangladeshi banks, he said the culture of lending against land mortgage should be stopped.

"The cash-flow and the goodwill of the borrowing companies should be the main criteria to approve loans."

"Land and mortgaged property cannot be the repayment guarantee against the loan," the career banker asserted.

Commenting on the deteriorating financial conditions of the state-owned banks, Iftekhar said there should be only one state-owned bank to run it professionally.

Bangladesh has also excess number of private commercial banks at present, which has given rise to unhealthy competition, he regretted.

"Time has come to merge the banks as the financial health of many of them is very weak," he said.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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