SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2015
110 years of Standard Chartered n Mamun Rashid
tandard Chartered Bank is celebrating 110 years of its business in Bangladesh across the country this year. Congratulations to all of my SCB colleagues, and more importantly, the esteemed clients and stakeholders who made it possible for SCB to become almost a neighbourhood bank here in Bangladesh. Today’s SCB dates back to 1828, when Robert Melville Grindlay established Leslie and Grindlays followed by the establishment of the Chartered Bank in 1853 and the Standard Bank in 1862. Grindlays Bank made its footprint in what is now Bangladesh in 1905, and then SCB in 1948. Grindlays Bank became National and Grindlays Bank in 1959, then The Grindlays Bank in 1975, and then Grindlays Bank Plc in 1982. In 1969, US-based Citibank acquired a 40% stake in Grindlays Bank, with the other predominant shareholder being Lloyds Bank. In 1984, both of them sold Grindlays Bank to Australia’s ANZ Banking Group. However, ANZ only changed its name to ANZ Grindlays Bank in 1989. In 2000, ANZ sold its Grindlays subsidiary to SCB. Today’s Standard Chartered, therefore, carries a lot in terms of legacy. I have fond memories of working for both ANZ and SCB. When I was leaving ANZ Grindlays in August 1993 for SCB, after almost seven years, our country manager, David Robison, thought SCB didn’t have any future. I remember smiling and telling him: “Who knows? Maybe we will make so much money that we will be able to buy ANZ Grindlays someday.”
I never could predict this was going to be true only seven years down the line, while Andy Prebble, the then SCB GM for UK and Europe, invited me to join the global acquisition team for purchasing ANZ’s Grindlays subsidiary. I closely worked with Peter Sullivan, John Filmeridis, and a few others to make this a success. My stints with both banks helped me a lot.
Meghnaghat, and the AES Haripur power projects, and Biman’s acquisition of new aircrafts gave the first-ever sovereign credit rating for Bangladesh. Among foreign banks, Grindlays was the pioneer in helping the local middle market companies transition into the large local corporates of today. SCB kept the flag flying much higher.
Going forward, SCB has to continue to do better. In our days, there was less competition. Today, there are many local private banks offering comprehensive solutions
I’m happy to see that what was termed as a “banana skin bank” by Institutional Investor magazine back in 1993, has become the bank of choice for many in African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries, Bangladesh in particular. Grindlays, and in recent years, SCB, is very much identified with the development process in Bangladesh. We worked very closely with the central bank and government officials to delineate the country’s foreign exchange policy just after its independence. The establishment of Karnaphuli Fertiliser Company, Jamuna Bridge, Meghna Bridge, Gomti Bridge, Bhairab Bridge, AES
I myself owe a lot to SCB. My MBA program with Henley Business School was sponsored by SCB. I received their best treasurer award in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, and more importantly, the most coveted SCB group Chairman Award for network revenue generation. I worked across the entire spectrum of their wholesale banking -- corporate, treasury, FI, recovery and restructuring of stressed loans, and portfolio reviews in several countries. Seniors like Claude Lobo, Steve McCarthy, Geoff Williams, Alex Thursby, Colin Avery, David Sparkes, Mike Rees, Euleen Goh, David Chew, John Filmeridis, Malcolm Williamson,
Robert Green, Shayne Nelson, and many others played a significant role in shaping my career. My struggles, along with Colin Avery, the regional head of special assets management, paid me enough to become the youngest CEO in Bangladesh’s banking industry till date. Together with my distinguished colleagues Ali Reza Iftekhar, SAA Masrur, Fahim Haque, Naser Ezaz Bijoy, Faisal Anwar, Francis Rozario, Ken Gibson, Ashok Luharuwalla, John Chang, David Mccreath, Alamgir Morshed, Masihul Chowdhury, Fahmida Sharmin, Kanti Kumar, Sajidur Rahman and many others, we built the best banking franchise in Bangladesh and brought in the best solutions for our paymasters -- our very esteemed clients. We all are very proud of SCB’s success in Bangladesh. Going forward, SCB has to continue to do better. In our days, there was less competition. Today, there are many local private banks offering comprehensive solutions and diverse products to the clients. While corruption has not been reduced, governance is still a big problem in Bangladesh along with a dearth of good people. My SCB friends have to keep on investing in developing the best structured solutions for large local and global clients, wealth management solutions, e-banking, and further innovating alternate channels in an over-banked but underserved country, always fostering a winning bond between their clients and people. l Mamun Rashid is a business professor and financial sector entrepreneur.