Outside Aspirations

Mar 03, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Hatton National Bank is keen to get into Bangladesh though its first attempt to buy into a bank in that country was not completed, an official said. HNB was short listed to buy over Orient Bank which was being re-structured but in the final stage the bank gave a conditional offer, and the deal went to a Malaysian party, HNB managing director Rajendra Theagarajah said.

“Bangladesh is of interest and we want to be there,” Theagarajah told LBO.

“This is the first move we made. We will continue to explore opportunities. Bangladesh is very much in our radar.”

HNB has also signed up with City Union Bank in India to start an investment banking unit.

HNB has already applied to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka for approval and is to apply to the Reserve Bank of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India for the regulatory go ahead in that country.

The bank has a representative office in Chennai but entry barriers to commercial banking are high, the bank said.

The bank said in its annual report that 8.7 percent of its voting shares recently bought by foreign investors had not been registered in the company’s books.