Pakistan's best international bank 2017: Standard Chartered
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Pakistan's best international bank 2017: Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered is much more than the last international bank still standing when it comes to this award. True, foreign banks such as HSBC, Barclays, RBS, ABN Amro and Citi have either sold or scaled back their operations in Pakistan in recent years.

But Shazad Dada’s StanChart Pakistan, the country’s sixth-largest bank, whose 101 branches generated a healthy Rs15.2 billion ($145 million) in profit in 2016, is a serious domestic player in Pakistan in its own right.

Dada says Pakistan is a “key engine of growth” for the wider London-based Standard Chartered Group. StanChart is longest-standing foreign bank in Pakistan; it dates its franchise there from 1863.

StanChart Pakistan is looking to cement its position with its digital banking platform, which should help it maintain its leadership in mobilizing low-cost deposits. Islamic banking services are also a strong point.

That’s all very impressive, but its genuine clout in Pakistan banking was perhaps best evidenced in September when it co-managed Islamabad’s first foray into the sovereign sukuk market since 2014. Timed to coincide with Pakistan’s successful exit from three years under IMF care, the $1 billion deal was heavily oversubscribed to investors in Europe, the US and the Middle East, an eloquent statement that Pakistan was back into favour with international investors after years in the wilderness.

And, with the giant China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project gaining momentum, it might also suggest that perhaps the likes of HSBC, Barclays et al were premature to exit an increasingly exciting contest.

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