NDB Group bullish on post-war SL, greater bilateral ties with India

Monday, 27 June 2011 01:12 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Having begun as a development finance specialist, NDB Bank has been an integral element of Sri Lankan business for three decades. Today as a Group it provides universal banking services and has positioned itself as a well integrated financial solutions provider that can cater to diverse financial needs from end to end.

The Group’s expertise extends from small and medium scale financing and project finance to investment banking, wealth management and stockbroking. In addition the Group offers a full range of commercial banking services, retail banking and insurance.

This makes NDB Group ideally suited for Indian citizens as well as corporates as a partner to tap immense unfolding opportunities in Sri Lanka. “NDB is the only institution that can be the ‘one stop shop’ for Indian direct investors in Sri Lanka,” says Chief Executive Officer Russell de Mel. NDB Group provides a host of services such as carrying out feasibility studies, designing an entry strategy, finding local partners, facilitating the process of getting approvals from local regulatory authorities, arrange funding through private equity, syndication of debt, etc., arranging of next round of funding for expansion purposes, taking company public at the right stage and acting as the financial advisors. NDB Group has serviced several top notch Indian and foreign companies in different aspects. It has supported the Indian Oil Corporation and CEAT as well as Piramal Glass.

De Mel strongly believes that Indian companies can take advantage of the Sri Lankan Government’s new push to develop the country as several economic hubs.

“The development goals for the country gives focus on establishing Sri Lanka as a fivefold regional hub (port, aviation, commercial, energy and knowledge) benefiting from the high growth expectations of the emerging market economies,” he said.

“We plan to be part of this growth story,” pointed out de Mel, who has been with NDB Bank for three decades. Sri Lanka’s pursuit to become a knowledge hub also gels well with NDB Bank’s own positioning. “We see great potential for knowledge-based banking in the years ahead, especially in an era of high growth and development.”

De Mel is emphatic that Sri Lanka’s prospects post-war are excellent. Sri Lanka in 2010 achieved an 8% economic growth and future growth phase will be fuelled by investments and on its part NDB is pursuing a path that is focused on further leveraging the Group dynamics and building on its core competencies and specialised skills in project, infrastructure and SME financing.

“We will continue to play a significant role in providing financial intermediation for the small scale enterprises, with a view to extending our focus to the micro segment. We will take a differentiated approach to retail banking, with channel innovation. And above all, we will seek to be a formidable force and a significant contributor to the growth of our economy, growth of the country,” explained CEO of NDB Bank.

Regarded as one of best capitalised banks, NDB in 2010 saw its gross lending portfolio grow by an unprecedented 27%, its highest ever as well as above the industry average of 22.6%. Growth in lending has been broad based with all core banking segments reflecting significant momentum. To date NDB Bank functions as an APEX institution for Government-negotiated credit channels from international donor agencies as well as funding schemes directly negotiated by NDB Bank.

De Mel also emphasised that the scope for greater bilateral trade and investment ties was substantial. India is Sri Lanka’s biggest source for imports as well as tourists in addition to accounting for a considerable stock of foreign direct investment and can help Sri Lanka in its quest to become a knowledge hub as well as enhance technology to better harness the post-war growth potential.

“Given India’s supremacy in these two areas, there is enormous potential for partnerships and investments,” he added.

NDB is also of the view that when the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is implemented, there will be a second wave of Indian investments in Sri Lanka.

CEO and Head of the NDB Investment Banking Cluster Vajira Kulatilaka said: “Whilst NDB propels into the future harnessing the benefits of knowledge-based banking, the investment banking cluster will form the gateway through which the investments flow into the country as much as distributing the Group’s banking products to investors overseas.” He pointed out Indian firms also had good scope for property and housing under the overall ambit of infrastructure development and healthcare. Kulatilaka said that Indians including the Diaspora can also benefit from impressive returns the Colombo stock market has offered by being the most consistent best performing market in the world. Given the prospects of new listings in the Colombo Stock Exchange in the coming year, NDB Investment Bank is seeking to benefit from these new opportunities and maintain its lead position in the market in these and many other spheres.

“Our vision is to become the most sought after integrated investment banking solution provider of the country and region,” said Kulatilaka.

“As a leading financial conglomerate offering a gamut of financial services, NDB Group is a catalyst for potential foreign investors. With our diverse range of companies and strength and experience in the financial services sector, investors will be able to reap benefits from the new growing economic scenario in Sri Lanka.” (Source: Economic Times)