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Sri Lankan bank to go nationwide, targets small businesses
16 Nov, 2011 09:01:17
Nov 16, 2011 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's Nations Trust Bank plans to become a 'nationwide' bank with a fast branch expansion targeting both savers and small businesses, replicating a banking model tried on rich retail and corporate clients.
Renuka Fernando, NTB's deputy chief executive, said the bank will rapidly expand outside Colombo, setting up 15 more branches by the end of 2012 as a post-war economic recovery increases financial flows outside the western province where the capital is located.

"We aim to become a nationwide bank from a western province-oriented bank," she told a news conference.

NTB stuck to the western province in its initial growth phase targeting what it identified as a 'mass affluent' customer base among consumers and also corporate banking.

"In future we aim to go out to the rest of the country and capture market share in SMEs (small and medium enterprises). The model and expertise used in our consumer and corporate business will be used to attract SMEs," Fernando said.

"The thrust will not be the 'mass affluent' or top-end but towards SMEs. We will not stay in the 'mass affluent' market nor will we become a mass bank."

NTB will also replicate its 'hub and spoke' concept under which functions like credit approval and management are centralised, leaving branches to focus on "extremely aggressive sales" and customer service, Fernando said.

The bank expects increased business volumes to help compensate for contracting interest margins.

Fernando said NTB is aiming at small businesses which form the backbone of the economy and is seen growing fast after the end of the island's 30-year ethnic war in 2009.

"We expect a booming SME sector. We will also have a movement of money flows to the rest of the country and economic activity moving from the western province to key cities elsewhere."

NTB aims to build a "low-cost deposit base" to help fund planned expansion in lending and is also in talks with overseas development finance institutions to get medium-term funding.

NTB's deposits rose by 12 billion rupees or 25 percent to 60 billion rupees in the nine months to September 2011 from a year ago while gross loan and advances grew 26 percent or 12.3 billion to almost 60 billion rupees.

The bank's group net profit for the nine months to September 2011 rose 38 percent to almost 1.2 billion rupees.

Fernando said NTB aims to "differentiate itself by a strong sales and service orientation" that will cater to growing "aspirational" needs emerging in the post-war economy.

NTB will "aggressively acquire" customers in the leasing, factoring and credit card markets outside Colombo.

"Our branch expansion gives us the opportunity to do products and services not relevant as a western province bank such as remittances," Fernando said.

"We expect remittance flows of nearly five billion US dollars by the year-end and we want our share and we can get it because of our expansion into the rest of the country."

The bank has been hired people with the required expertise in targeted markets like SMEs and remittances and has even started signing up remittance houses globally, she said.

"We will also bring in revenue streams in products like pawning which we have started in a small way in the north and east and are essential there," Fernando said.

"A key strategy is the development of propositions for SMEs. We aim to have a big part of our loan portfolio in SMEs by 2013 with basic products like working capital financing and transactional services now provided by most banks."

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4. Sharpe Nov 17
Fixed deposits account for 72% of total deposits at NTB as at September 2011, much higher than other banks. NTB needs to urgently work on improving its current and savings account share of its deposit mix.
3. Asitha Nov 17
Mr. Investor, they need to start somewhere and I beleive that is what they are doing. HNB,COM,SB did not get their 200 branches overnight. They too started from a smaller no of branches. Geez ! Youhave to crawl before you walk.
2. ihi Nov 16
I dont understand.......... they are trying to appeal to high income personal banking clients (e.g,, by advertising Kumar Sangakkara, etc) .............. and also going behind SMEs which is a very messy segment to cater to. i think they are a confused bank.
1. Investor Nov 16
Setting up 15 new branches by end 2012 will not help too much in NTB's new SME ambitions. Its current network is only around 50 branches, while competitors COMB, HNB and SAMP each have over 200 branches and are still expanding fast.