South Asia: Best International Bank in the Region for BRI 2017
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South Asia: Best International Bank in the Region for BRI 2017

Standard Chartered

One could say that Standard Chartered was working on the Belt and Road Initiative long before it was born, having set up China desks, staffed by experienced Chinese-speaking bankers, in south Asia, southeast Asia, and the Middle East since the early 2000s.

One might also say the lender was born to bank BRI, given its nexus of knowledge and experience covering most, if not all, of the belt-and-road countries. In south Asia alone, it boasts more than 150 years of experience, with 250 branches spread across Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

What makes StanChart stand out in BRI terms in south Asia, though, is not just the scale of its presence, but its ability to leverage that presence to the maximum. If there is a BRI-related project or deal in the region, you can bet StanChart is either on it, or tried its hardest to secure the mandate.

In Sri Lanka, it was named the official account bank for China Harbour’s Colombo Port City Investment project.

It is also acting as the official renminbi account bank for a five-year hydropower project in Pakistan, built by China Three Gorges Corporation and supported, via a $1.74 billion syndicated loan facilitated by Standard Chartered, by Chinese policy banks, the IFC and the Silk Road Fund. And the bank regularly goes beyond financing to support Chinese clients as they bed into the region.

In the final quarter of 2016, Standard Chartered set up a regional treasury centre that serves clients in Sri Lanka. And it continues to make its presence felt, holding 23 corporate engagements in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka in 2016 that included, among the attendees, senior executives at Chinese policy lenders. In turn, in April 2017, it sent a cohort of senior bankers from Bangladesh and Pakistan to China to engage with mainland-based corporate clients, policy banks and the central bank.

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