Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank to explore Maldives expansion

Sep 18, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon is planning on setting up a banking subsidiary in the Republic of Maldives in partnership with a Maldivian company, the bank said in a stock exchange filing.

“We are delighted to receive a licence to operate a fully-fledged banking subsidiary in the Maldives,” Commercial Bank’s Managing Director and CEO Jegan Durairatnam said in a statement.

“Sri Lanka and the Maldives enjoy the closest possible bilateral relations and are linked by extremely strong economic ties. Sri Lankan companies operate hotels in the Maldives, large numbers of Sri Lankans are employed in the Maldivian hospitality industry, and Sri Lanka provides services to Maldivian visitors in many spheres including education and healthcare. It is therefore logical that a bank of the size and calibre of Commercial Bank has a presence in the Maldives.”

The partner Maldivian group of companies is involved in businesses ranging from financial services, hotel and tourism and retailing.

Commercial Bank intends to invest in a 55 percent stake in this banking subsidiary subjected to necessary exchange controls requirement. The remaining 45 percent will be owned by the partner company.

The filing said the regulatory requirement for setting up the bank branch has been already approved.

The Maldives will be the third overseas banking operation of Commercial Bank, after Bangladesh, which the Bank entered in 2003, and Myanmar where the Bank opened a Representative Office in June this year.

Durairatnam said that Commercial Bank has already extended substantial offshore lending facilities from Colombo to businesses located in the Maldives.

“Our entry strategy is to establish a single branch initially in Malé and thereafter increase our presence to up to three branches by the fifth year,”

“Mobile units and ATMs will also be set up in strategic locations and technology will be utilised at the highest level to tackle the vast geographic distribution.” he added.

The new bank will offer individuals and corporate entities in the Maldives a variety of financial services such as savings and current accounts, fixed deposits, personal loans, housing loans, credit cards, overdrafts, commercial loans, trade financing services, internet banking, mobile banking, remittances and foreign exchange.