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New banks cautious about lending

Banking Desk

Most of the nine new banks licensed last year appear to be cautious in lending even as demand for loans is gradually rising.
Bangladesh Bank (BB) data showed that only two new entrants are fairly aggressive in lending.
“We are going slow, steady and carefully,” said Muklesur Rahman, Managing Director of NRB Bank. The bank’s loan-deposit ratio stood at 23.51 percent as of January this year against a market average of 71.55 percent.
“We are yet to set up our full team. We are not concerned, as business opportunities are there.”
Among the nine banks, Modhumoti and Farmers’ Bank looked tight in extending credit: Modhumoti has lent only Tk 14.67 crore—equivalent to 9 percent of its deposits, while Farmers’ Bank has given out less than 14 percent or Tk 19.24 crore. In contrast, NRB Global lent Tk 313 crore or 99 percent of its deposits, followed by NRB Commercial Bank that lent Tk 426 crore or 74 percent of deposits.
“We were a bit aggressive in lending. After all, we have to do business,” said Abdul Quddus, managing director of NRB Global Bank. He said his bank’s loan-deposit ratio has now come down to 86 percent from nearly 100 percent on January 16.
NRB Global has only three branches and the bank is yet to get a Nostro account, which is held in a foreign country and is used for settlement of trade transactions in foreign currencies.
South Bangla Agriculture and Commerce Bank (SBAC) started business first among the new banks; it opened its first branch in August and the bank’s number of branches reached 12 by December. The bank also received the central bank’s approval to open 10 more branches this year.
“We were the only bank among the new nine banks to see an operating profit in 2013,” said Rafiqul Islam, managing director of SBAC. The bank made a Tk 14 crore operating profit last year.
Even though demand for money is slowly increasing, the response is poor from new industries, he added. As of January, SBAC has lent Tk 311.55 crore or about 68 percent of its deposits, BB data shows. The bank’s loan-deposit ratio dropped to 61 percent on February 24.
The loan-deposit ratios of Meghna, Midland and Union banks stood at around 60 percent as of January.
The central bank approved nine new banks in two phases in 2013 to take the country’s total number of scheduled banks to 56, of which, 39 are private, nine foreign and eight are state-owned. The new banks were established with Tk 400 crore in paid-up capital.

Source: The Daily Star

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