Bank Spread

February 4, 2010 (AFP) – Banking giant HSBC will open a branch in Sri Lanka’s former war zone, the first foreign bank to do so since the end of the country’s long ethnic conflict, the central bank governor said Thursday. HSBC will open for business in Jaffna, the heartland of the island’s Tamil minority, next week.

“The north has been an untapped market for years due to the war and we are seeing a lot of interest from financial companies to expand into that area,” governor Nivard Cabraal said. Since the bloody conflict between government troops and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels ended last May, the central bank has allowed 73 national bank branches to open in the north.