When assessing the winners of this award, one bank stood well above the rest. Standard Chartered’s credentials in south Asia are irrefutable. The bank has more than 150 years of history and a hefty on-the-ground presence in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, with 250 branches in all and 14,000-plus employees. Since the idea of a New Silk Road was floated in 2013 by Chinese president Xi Jinping, StanChart has worked assiduously to make the project work for its clients.
Every year, the list of completed BRI deals grows, gaining in sophistication and complexity.
In January, it signed a memorandum of understanding with China Development Bank, which pledged to channel Rmb10 billion ($1.45 billion) in loans to Standard Chartered over the next five years to fund BRI projects. It also signed a pair of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) that deepen its relationships with two of Beijing’s big-four state-run commercial banks. Pick a recent large, complex BRI project at random in south Asia, and the chances that Standard Chartered was involved is high.
It was arranger, agent bank and structuring bank on a 10-year buyer’s credit facility for Sri Lanka’s Laugfs Gas, supported by Chinese credit insurer Sinosure. That deal will finance the construction of a new terminal at the Chinese-owned Hambantota Port in southern Sri Lanka, which will enable the transhipment of LPG gas to Myanmar and India.
Standard Chartered was also present in a host of regional investments by large Chinese conglomerates. It was escrow agent on a new international airport under construction in Nepal, funded by a $216 million loan from Export-Import Bank of China.
And, in the first half of 2018, it issued a performance bond for China Harbour Engineering, which is building a jetty at Gwadar in western Pakistan.