Overseas Look

Mar 24, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Hatton National Bank is looking to start investment banking operations in Bangladesh as part of its venture into overseas markets, a senior official said. HNB had gone into Oman to push remittances through Majan Exchange LLC, which is 40 percent owned by the bank.

And it has just completed regulatory formalities for two more similar operations in the UAE and Canada with commercial operations expected to begin in the first half of 2009. “We want to enter Bangladesh and have applied to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) to get a license to set up investment banking operations,” HNB managing director Rajendra Theagarajah told LBO.

“Now we’re awaiting regulatory approval.”

Theagarajah, who was in Bangladesh recently with investment banking officials of HNB, said the venture was still in its early stages.

Bangladesh has not been giving new licenses for commercial banks in recent years.

“But we felt there are enough opportunities in investment banking,” Theagarajah said.

While an application was lodged at the Bangladesh Bank (Central Bank), the political turmoil experienced there for most of 2008 slowed down the system,