Sri Lanka's best domestic bank 2017: Commercial Bank
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Sri Lanka's best domestic bank 2017: Commercial Bank

Commercial Bank

It is impossible to ignore the Commercial Bank of Ceylon in Sri Lanka. It’s the biggest private-sector bank, with 256 branches and 650 ATMs forming the widest network among the country’s non-government banks.

Its profits after tax for the first nine months of 2016, at Rs10.2 billion ($67.2 million), narrowly outstripped arch-rival Hatton National Bank (HNB). But at over Rs710 billion, ComBank has by far the biggest deposit base, the biggest capital base, the best cost-to-income ratio and total assets close to Rs1 trillion. This helps explain why it’s also the island’s biggest bank by market capitalization – more than one-and-a-half times the size of HNB – and makes it Sri Lanka’s third-biggest listed entity overall. ComBank’s return on average equity stands at a healthy 19.56%.

“Business is very good,” says CEO Jegan Durairatnam. “But it could always be better.” And ComBank seems well-positioned to progress in 2017. Durairatnam insists the firm is insulated from Colombo’s growing property bubble. Its capital adequacy ratio stands at a prudent 11.40%, while a clean-up of its loan book sees non-performing loans of just 1.41%. Loans and receivables to customers grew by a healthy 12.6% in 2016.

The careful Durairatnam has plenty of room to build on recent initiatives, including: the launch of a special savings account designed to support entrepreneurs; a 37% growth in the bank’s SME lending portfolio; a 22% rise in the home loans portfolio; a 40% growth in the bank’s credit card base; the launch of education loans and green development loans; and Sri Lanka’s first-ever remittance card, aimed at customers who bring foreign exchange into the country.

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