Big Bucks

May 13, 2007 (LBO) – State-owned Bank of Ceylon is on a path to increase private sector lending and strengthen its capital to keep pace with a growing loan book, officials said. . The Bank of Ceylon, Sri Lanka’s largest bank has been a principal financier of the government but in the last quarter private sector lending has overtaken loans to the state sector.

“Private sector lending has grown to 53 percent of total advances by March,” General Manager B A C Fernando told reporters.

At end-December 2006, loans were split 50/50 between government and private sector, he said.

Chairman Udayasri Kariawasam said the bank’s gross assets had climbed to 400 billion rupees by end-March.

The bank and its subsidiaries ended 2006 with gross assets of 384 billion rupees up from 325 billion rupees a year earlier.

The bank has group net assets of 19 billion rupees but due to the rising loan book capital adequacy fell marginally to 13.17 percent from 13.91 percent.

However the bank has recently borrowed 200 million dollars via a syndicated loan which once lent, will cause the loans volumes to speed up.

Officials say the proceeds of the new syndicated loan wil