Being present at the creation of the Belt and Road Initiative must be like life at the start of the internet. Everyone knew it would be huge – but it wasn’t clear at first what that really meant.
Vital to the entire BRI project, at least at this stage of its development, is infrastructure. Without better and bigger bridges, ports, roads and high-speed rail lines, there would be far less two-way investment flows and corporate connectivity. No lender has been more effective at corralling capital and putting it to work in big infrastructure projects than Standard Chartered, with its long-standing and growing presence in southeast Asia and mainland China.
Over the last year, the bank has helped a mainland property firm to build an urban development in Jakarta, acted as lead arranger, bookrunner and facility agent in a one-year syndicated term loan facility for a Singapore-listed Chinese shipbuilder and issued a performance bond for another mainland-backed real estate project in Malaysia.
Wherever you look, you find StanChart working with Chinese corporates and banks to raise capital, financing complex infrastructure projects and providing day-to-day banking needs, from foreign exchange and principal finance to bank guarantees and cash pooling.
To give just one example, Standard Chartered implemented a centralized liquidity and account management solution for a large Chinese engineering group to improve its risk management and control mechanisms in markets along the New Silk Road.
“When people talk about Belt & Road, they often talk about infrastructure financing,” says Carmen Ling, head of global renminbi at Standard Chartered in Hong Kong. “But it goes beyond infrastructure: it’s also about trade flows, about people, and about cultural connectivity. Right now, we are in phase one, where the goal is to build infrastructure and facilitate growth and sustainable economic development.”