100 years of banking in Sri Lanka: Commercial Bank celebrates a century of supporting the nation

Tuesday, 21 January 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Commercial Bank’s staff gathering in progress



  • More than 4,000 employees unite in Colombo to reminisce and re-commit to the century ahead

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon celebrates 100 years of banking in Sri Lanka and in its citizens, and a century of indispensable support to the national economy in 2020, and has begun its centenary year with a staff gathering of unprecedented scale.

The dreams of the future and the history of the past were interwoven when more than 4,000 staff members from all over Sri Lanka came together in Colombo in early January to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the bank and its forerunners.

The staff gathering that united employees of the country’s largest private bank was the launching pad for what is to be a year of commemoration, celebration and further commitment to stakeholders and the community by an institution that has, in the course of a century, become an integral part of the economic and social fabric of Sri Lanka.

Setting the tone for the Commercial Bank’s centenary celebrations in 2020 was the launch of the bank’s anthem, composed for the purpose and intended to serve as a motivator and a rallying call in the century ahead, and presentations by the bank’s Managing Director S. Renganathan and Chief Operating Officer Sanath Manatunge.

Renganathan began by recalling the post-World War 1 origins of the bank as the Eastern Bank in 1920, the acquisition of Eastern Bank shares by Barclays Bank in the 1930s and 1940s, the sale of the shareholding of Barclays Bank and the Sassoon family in 1957 to Chartered Bank and the formation in 1969 of the Standard Chartered Bank, which led to the conversion of Eastern Bank in Ceylon to a local Bank named Commercial Bank of Ceylon Ltd.

In the years that followed, the Commercial Bank of Ceylon grew its asset base from Rs. 67 million to Rs. 1.370 trillion as at 30 September 2019, increased its deposit base from Rs. 51 million to Rs. 1.047 trillion, its loan book from Rs. 43 million to Rs. 900 billon and its net profit from Rs. 37,458 to Rs. 11.518 billion.

A full calendar of events is in place for the year ahead to fittingly celebrate Commercial Bank’s centenary and its commitment to the people of Sri Lanka. Highlights include a series of religious ceremonies representing the four major denominational faiths in the country, events to felicitate stakeholders, a country-wide community initiative that will benefit 100 schools and a large scale reforestation project.

Looking beyond the centennial year, Renganathan emphasised: “The banking industry is changing at a rapid pace. The potential to enhance business is also growing, but in a different manner than we have been used to. Digital technology plays a key role in delivering services to our customers. And while we look around for potential locations in the region to spread our risk in economies, we should also bear in mind the great potential we have in our own country. I am fully confident that our team has the greatest talent and ability to transform and deliver the products and services of the new century.”

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon is the only Sri Lankan bank to be ranked among the World’s Top 1000 Banks for nine consecutive years. It is not only the largest private bank in Sri Lanka, but the only private bank in the country with an international presence of a 19-branch operation in Bangladesh, a foothold in Myanmar with a Representative Office in Yangon and a Microfinance company in Nay PyiTaw, and an emerging force in the Maldives, where it operates a fully-fledged Tier I bank with two branches.

Commercial Bank operates a network of 268 branches and 865 ATMs in Sri Lanka. The bank has won over 80 international and local awards in 2018 and 2019, and was ranked among the 10 Most Admired Companies in Sri Lanka in 2019. It has also been adjudged the Most Respected Bank in Sri Lanka for 15 years.