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Here for good in Pakistan

Standard Chartered, with a presence in the country approaching 150 years, is the largest international bank in Pakistan. The Bank has a long and established history in Pakistan dated back from 1863, when it inaugurated its first agency office in Karachi. Currently, it has more than 100 branches spread across 25 cities, and employs a workforce of more than 4,500 people.

A journey of transformation:

For 150 successful years, Standard Chartered has established presence in some of the world's most dynamic markets including Pakistan. The last decade has seen the Bank transform itself to become part of the social and economic fabric of the country. It continues to deliver strong financial performance despite challenging external environment and to focus on deepening client relationships, utilising cross selling opportunities and further improving customer service and engagement. In 2000, the Bank acquired the operations of Grind- lays Bank from ANZ Bank and saw its footprint jump to 21 branches from seven branches. It then critically benchmarked itself against the fast growing local players. As a result, they implemented an organic growth strategy.

By 2006, its network had expanded to 50 branches in 12 cities. The beginning of 2007 saw the strategic acquisition of Union Bank, one of the best private sector banks in Pakistan. The acquisition, the largest ever in Pakistan's banking history, led to the establishment of Standard Chartered Bank (Pakistan) Limited (SCBPL), the first international bank to be locally incorporated. Its network grew to 115 branches in 22 cities. The Bank continued to grow organically to the point where it finds itself today.

The recent past has seen a significant growth in the banking industry in Pakistan. Given the perception that this growth is concentrated in urban centres, rural areas have been largely neglected when it comes to the provision of financial services. To provide financial services to millions of people in the neglected zone, a number of Standard Chartered Bank branches are located in 'rural towns'. It is the first and only international bank to venture into the rural areas of Pakistan. Flowing from their rural town presence is the focus on small and medium enterprise (SME) business development; the Bank already has a robust SME business in urban Pakistan.

A story of performance

Like many other parts of the word, Pakistan has experienced an unprecedented convergence of global and local challenges. The Bank responded to this combined challenge with a renewed emphasis on delivering in line with its long-term growth strategy.

Mohsin Nathani, Chief Executive of Pakistan says:

"We pride ourselves on being in Pakistan as the largest and oldest international bank. Our commitment to this remarkable country is unwavering and we look forward to sharing the commemoration of our 150 years of operation."

Innovations & market firsts

Standard Chartered Bank's scale has provided consumers with visible benefits as they bring Global Banking expertise and product knowledge to Pakistan.

By relenting the Priority Banking segment and repositioning the SME business for Medium Enterprises, the bank strengthened its already strong consumer banking franchise. Adding to that, their robust existing suite of retail and wealth products in both conventional and Islamic banking, ensures that they have a leading consumer base across the industry.

With their needs-based approach and strong capabilities, they are well positioned to help SME customers capture business opportunities and expand across markets. This is timely in view of the governments' rising interest in spurring the development of a more diverse, competitive and high-growth SME sector.

The wholesale banking franchise is noted in the industry for its unmatched on-the-ground expertise, relationship-focused approach to business and a solid track record of innovative, award-winning and client centric solutions.

Some milestone deals of the past year included:

-- Standard Chartered Bank was the sole financial advisor to Lucky Cement Limited which represented Yunus Brothers Group who agreed to acquire shareholding in ICI Pakistan Limited.

-Completion of the first ever local currency shipping finance transaction in Pakistan equivalent to $120 million, the largest syndicated deal for 2010 in the local market.

-- Extension of PKR 3 billion Islamic Structured Trade Finance Facility to Karachi Electric Supply Corporation.

-- A PKR 600 million, two-year finance facility to Tameer Micro Finance Bank Limited under the State Bank of Pakistan's Micro Finance Credit Guarantee Facility (MCGF) - the largest bilateral facility to any Micro Finance Institution/Bank under the MCGF scheme.

Building on the 150 year success trend, Standard Chartered in Pakistan is the first international bank to be awarded an Islamic Banking license and the first to open an Islamic Banking branch in Pakistan.

Standard Chartered Saadiq is the Bank's Islamic Banking brand.

Saadiq offers a comprehensive suite of products and services. In the last two years Saadiq has grown to become a significant player in Islamic Banking with 14 dedicated branches, strong deposit growth and revenue contribution. The expanded suite of Sukuk (Islamic bonds) and corporate finance solutions has further strengthened our strong consumer and wholesale banking franchise - Standard Chartered is now a domestic leader in both wholesale banking and consumer banking.

Standard Chartered Banks' innovation is not limited to products but extends to technology. The Bank launched the 'Straight to Operations (S2O)' project. This is a first in Pakistan for any bank and it will improve customer service by reducing turnaround time, improve consistency of processing, avoid paper copies and enable customer enquiry through real time status on the requests.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2013