EBL aims to become Southeast Asia's regional bank - Share market analysis of dhaka stock exchange, Bangladesh

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17 August, 2017 10:36 AM Source: The Daily Star Bangladesh

Eastern Bank Limited or EBL, which was born from the ashes of the then collapsed BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commerce International) in 1992, is going forward to become a regional bank of East-Southeast Asia, a top official said.

After achieving success on opening three representative offices in China, Myanmar and Hong Kong, the bank is now working on spreading its wings to neighbouring India, the second Bangladeshi private bank to do so.

The local bank will open one branch in Kolkata and another in Guwahati, for which EBL has hired PricewaterhouseCoopers' Kolkata office to assist in getting the required licence from the Reserve Bank of India, said Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director and CEO.

Also, the bank has a plan to convert its representative office in Hong Kong into a full-fledged branch. Presently, EBL has 82 branches.

AB Bank opened its first full-fledged overseas branch in Mumbai in 1996, while state-owned Sonali Bank has a branch in Kolkata. Another state-run lender, Janata Bank has two branches in the United Arab Emirates.

The CEO was talking to The Daily Star to mark the bank's 25th birth anniversary yesterday. In 1992, when the BCCI collapsed due to irregularities and mismanagement, Bangladesh Bank had stepped in to rescue the bank and its depositors.

The bank was restructured as per the guidelines of the central bank and some depositors of the BCCI got shares in the new bank and became directors.

“EBL began its journey with Tk 365 crore in negative capital. The directors did not take any dividends and fees until it made profits after six years,” said Iftekhar, who joined the bank in 2004 as a deputy managing director and assumed the office of the managing director and CEO in 2007.

Now the bank's performance indicators are better than many of its peer banks, even those older than EBL.

EBL's nonperforming loans have come down to only 2.69 percent against the industry's average of around 10 percent and state-owned banks' nearly 25 percent.

The bank's earnings per share have also increased to Tk 3.78 last year from Tk 3.63 a year ago. Profit after tax rose to over Tk 265 crore in 2016, up from Tk 222 crore in the previous year.

The bank's return on asset and equity has also increased to 1.33 percent and 12.94 percent last year from 1.23 percent and 10.95 percent respectively a year ago.

Iftekhar said despite challenges in the global and local markets, EBL is maintaining sustainable growth by leveraging its core strengths.

He said he strongly believes that a company with strong ethical values and great culture survives market shocks better than others.

“Our sound corporate governance, strong compliance culture, service excellence, and state-of-the-art IT platform are sources of our strength,” said Iftekhar.

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