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Meeting a nation's financial needs

Article - November 13, 2012
With a global network of branches and subsidiaries and a broad array of products and services, Sonali Bank Ltd. is creating value for the Bangladeshi banking sector
What is today one of Bangla-desh’s leading largest banks, Sonali Bank is the product of the nationalization and liquidation of three banks – National Bank of Pakistan, Premier Bank and Bank of Bhwalpur – into one fully state-owned institution in the early 1970s, and the later transformation of this into a PLC in 2007. With the recent corporatization, Sonali Bank was allowed more autonomy to raise its competitiveness and efficiency.

The mission of Sonali Bank  is to “extend a whole range of quality products that support divergent needs of people aiming at enriching their lives, creating value for the stakeholders and contributing towards socio-economic development of the country.” Sonali customers have access to personal, SME and international banking, investment bonds, foreign currency accounts, and deposit and credit schemes. The bank also extends industrial financing, rural and micro credit.

Banking at Sonali is made easy and convenient thanks to its extensive network. Spread throughout the country, nearly 1,200 branches – of which just 342 are located in urban areas, with the remaining 854 in rural zones – in addition to twobranches in India serve thousands of customers daily.

In the U.S., the bank is present through its subsidiary Sonali Exchange Co. Inc. (SECI). Incorporated as an international money remitter in 1994,

SECI has 10 offices in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Michigan. In England, Sonali Bank (U.K.) Ltd. functions as both remittance center and bank in London, Luton, Birmingham, Manchester, and Bradford.

The bank’s merchant banking arm, Sonali Investment Limited, operates out of its four branches in Motijheel, Paltan, Uttara and Mirpur.

Bangladesh is home to the fourth largest Muslim population in the world. To better satisfy local demands and more accurately tailor its products and services to this audience, Sonali Bank launched Islamic banking in 2010, based entirely on Shariah law and spearheaded by a supervisory committee consisting of reputed Islamic scholars, economists and bankers.

Sonali  has made Islamic banking available online and is bringing dynamism into the sector by leveraging the bank’s reputation and financial strength.

In 2011, Sonali  underwent a surveillance rating as both a government support entity bank and commercial bank. For the former, it received AAA rating for long-term and ST-1 for short-term – both the highest ratings for the category. As a commercial bank, Sonali received A- and ST-2. Overall outlook is deemed stable.