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TEXT: The Bank of Punjab (“BOP” or the “Bank”), established in 1989, is the second largest public sector commercial bank in the country, offering a comprehensive product suite to customers across the country. With a Balance Sheet size of over PKR 1.3 trillion, it is currently the 10th largest bank in the country in terms of total Deposits, operating with a network of 762 conventional and Islamic branches/sub-branches and 702 ATMs spread across Pakistan serving approximately 2 million customers.

A New Strategic Direction

The bank has over the past 3 years adopted a very progressive transformation strategy. Hallmarks of the Bank’s strategic transformation process are the expansion & optimization of its Branch Network for maximizing penetration, enhancing its product offering andundertaking digital transformation to target becoming a full-fledged Challenger Bank. In addition to the above, the Bank intends to focus on the quality of its assets and robustness of its balance sheet to ensure steady income streams for the years ahead.

The Bank has planned to achieve its strategic goals by pursuing the multifaceted objectives of human resource improvement, rapid digitalization, and expansion into Northern and Southern markets of the country. This will be supplemented by increased focus on agri and middle market segments, seeking an accelerated deposit growth with improved margins and prudent lending business under a solid corporate governance framework. From 2020 till 2022, the Bank has demonstrated rapid expansion in its product portfolio and has established a strong footprint especially in the area of Corporate & Investment Banking, amongst others.

BOP’s Investment Banking

BOP offers a comprehensive corporate banking product suite, in both conventional and shariah compliant versions, ranging from credits to trade and from transaction banking to structured finance solutions. The Investment Banking (“IB”) division of the Bank of Punjab was recently rejuvenated under the vision of BOP’s senior leadership to establish a market-leading team with unparalleled understanding and demonstrated track record of complete Investment Banking product suite. The team today comprises of 14 well-respected product specialists and experienced resources in areas of Capital Markets, Syndications, Equity Advisory and Project Finance & Infrastructure Advisory.

Under IB division, transactions are structured to meet customized, time critical needs of large clients while providing full spectrum of financial products, services and tailored financial solutions to the customers. The IB division deals in the following domains:

• Capital Markets & Syndications

Capital Markets & Syndication unit undertakes arrangement of short to long-term consortium-based financing requirements to facilitate the same for established corporate entities, structured or hybrid financing or where access to capital markets is necessitated for fund raising.

• Equity & Advisory

Equity & Advisory services unitprovides customized financial and non-financial advisory services to corporate and institutional clients. Such services also relate to raising capital for clients through offering different types of equity issues to the public or private investors. The unit provides buy and sell-side advisory services, bankers to the issue, book-runner to the issue, equity placements and underwritings, amongst others.

• Project Finance & Infra Advisory

Project Finance and Infra Advisory provides advisory and debt arrangement services for structuring and financing of green-field/brown-field projects on non-recourse or limited recourse basis. The focus is to develop bespoke financing solutions for capital intensive projects.

Moreover, IB also offers ancillary services including but not limited to Agency services, Security Agency/Trustee services, Project Accounts bank, Collection bank, Project Monitoring bank and Escrow services, amongst others.

USP for BOP’s Investment Banking

In order to achieve excellence in the aforementioned functions, IB is supported through the following:

• Active and vibrant corporate and commercial banking team in both conventional and Islamic banking versions serving over 600 customers across Pakistan.

• Strong inter group integration with cross-selling synergies with trade, transaction banking and treasury groups for one-window solution to clients.

• Full-service suite of products to cater to clients’ needs in this ever-changing business environment.

• Demonstrated track record of the unit and team members successfully advising and arranging big-ticket transactions.

• Only IB in Pakistan to have strong and active presence in Lahore and Karachi serving both the private sector and public sector clients.

The formation of this dedicated division has strengthened BOP’s Investment Banking activities in the industry with a common objective to excel in complete sphere of Investment Banking. This development is being positively perceived as also substantiated through an influx of notable mandates which is a testament to Corporate & Investment Banking team’s collective efforts.

Consequently, BOP’s IB has emerged as one of the most active IB units in the country, punching well above its weight in the market. Over the years, the bank has successfully delivered many leading transactions in Power, Oil & Gas, Infrastructure, Aviation, Cement, Construction, Steel, Sugar, Transport & Communications and Pharmaceutical Industry, etc. This has led to an increase in franchise value whereby BOP has become the bank of choice in Investment Banking space for a majority of the customers looking for quality services.

Some Notable Mentions

BOP’s IB is soaring in the niche through its specialist team with strong credentials and demonstrated track record of successfully closing big-ticket, innovative and pioneering transactions. Some notable transactions of 2021 include:

• Exclusive Mandated Lead Arranger of syndicated working capital financing and additional project finance facilities for a 660 MW power project of one of the largest business groups in the country.

• Joint Mandated Lead Arranger for arrangement of the largest ever Project Finance deal in Pakistan’s financial sector to set up a 1,263 MW RLNG based Independent Power Producer in Pakistan.

• In view of Telecom sector’s large capex and licensing requirements, BOP as one of the Mandated Lead Advisors & Arrangers and largest lender, participated in big-ticket syndicated facilities of leading conglomerates.

• Moreover, on account of the spurring economic activity in construction sector, BOP as one of the Mandated Lead Advisors & Arrangers has also actively participated in large syndicated facilities for renowned cement players.

• Multiple transactions for GoPb on first of its kind transaction structure.

• In addition to being honored with the “Best Corporate Finance House of the Year 2021” by CFA Society Pakistan, BOP has also been accredited with: Project Infrastructure Deal of the year – Pakistan by The Asian Banking & Finance Corporate & Investment Banking Award 2021 for a 1,263 MW RLNG-fired project in which BOP acted as one of the Mandated Lead Arrangers Power Deal of the year by the Asset Asian Awards (AAA) 2021 for a 1,263 MW RLNG-fired project in which BOP acted as one of the Mandated Lead Arrangers

The Way Forward

Conscious of its path-breaking role, BOP’s IB division is exploring new vistas of green funding and climate-friendly project financing to align its role with BOP’s green banking initiatives. We remain committed to further build on already-strong origination, structuring and placement capabilities together with support of internal stakeholders to continue delivering a stellar performance for the benefit of our customers.

Farid Ahmed Khan, Group Chief Corporate & Investment Banking, BOP

Introduction

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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