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Credit Upturn

Dec 02, 2010 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's HSBC unit is seeing a steep increase in corporate lending as the island recovers from a 30-year war and the country is re-building infrastructure, an official said. "Corporate banking has grown 30 percent from January to October," HSBC chief executive Nick Nicolaou said.

"Though people say banks aren’t lending money, we are lending money."

Corporate lending up to October was seen in trade finance, working capital and infrastructure, he said.

HSBC is Sri Lanka's largest foreign bank, with assets of 195 billion rupees by end-September.

Over the past three years the bank has arranged about a billion dollars for infrastructure and was also involved in selling 2.0 billion US dollars of sovereign bonds in international markets.

Up to September 2010 total performing loans had grown 13 percent to 87 billion rupees according to the bank's published accounts.

He said the bank is expecting to end the year with about 25 percent credit growth.

"We are looking at all the development sectors; infrastructure, tourism, manufacturing," Nicolaou said.

"We are active across sectors."

Sri Lanka's interest rates are falling amid better

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