- Country’s 23rd commercial bank with Rs. 4.4 b capital funded by influential consortium of investors kicks off
- Chairman Louis Page promises new culture of inclusive commercial banking harnessing spirit of progress among every Sri Lankan
Central Bank Gov-ernor Nivard Cabraal yesterday hailed the entry of Cargills Bank, saying it reflected the confidence in the future of the economy and commended its resolve to support the spirit of progress among Sri Lankans.
With Rs. 4.4 billion in capital from a consortium of top investors, Cargills Bank became the 23rd licensed commercial bank in the country after a two and half years wait.
Given its importance, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa were also present at the opening of Cargills Bank’s Head Office branch in Bambalapitiya along with Monetary Board members, business leaders and customers.
“The birth of a bank is an important milestone in the economic history of a country. The message it conveys is Sri Lanka is opening out and the investors have faith and confidence in the country and the space to grow,” Chief Guest Cabraal told the inauguration ceremony.
The Central Bank Chief also welcomed Cargills Bank’s resolve to create a new banking spirit in Sri Lanka.
Styling itself as ‘Banking on the human spirit,’ Cargills Bank said its philosophy was founded upon being consistently available to its customers and to simplify its banking transactions by offering simple yet innovative and attractive banking products. It also said the launch heralds a vision to create a culture of commercial banking that facilitates progress and wealth creation.
Major promoters of Cargills Bank are Cargills (Ceylon) Plc and CT Holdings Plc, with the duo owning 15% each. Other investors include Merrill J Fernando Group (10%), MAS Holdings (5%), Brandix Group’s Phoenix Ventures (5%), Softlogic Holdings Plc/Asian Alliance Insurance (5%), Melwa Group (5%), AIA Insurance (2.5%), Hirdramani Group, Lalan Group and Ishara Traders.
In his speech, Cabraal also said that post-war Sri Lanka was witnessing enormous transformation and emphasised it was only the beginning. “During the past five years there has been considerable progress but we know we have a long way to go. There will be many challenges as we progress further, but the country has a clear vision and optimism,” the Central Bank Chief emphasised.
“We have created a new platform for growth for the private sector with 7.5% GDP growth on average for the past five years. Private sector efforts have contributed whilst global recognition for Sri Lanka is on the rise too,” Cabraal added.
Cargills Bank Chairman Louis Page speaking on behalf of the Board of Directors and investors said the bank was committed to playing a pivotal role towards realising President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s vision of greater socio-economic prosperity in Sri Lanka.
“What we aspire to build from today is a culture of commercial banking that facilitates progress and delivers wealth across social and income groups,” Page said during his speech, adding that emphasis will be inclusive commercial banking with equity to all and harnessing the spirit of progress among every Sri Lankan. In doing so, Cargills Bank will promote sustainable development and successful entrepreneurship for generations to come.
In a statement Cargills Bank Managing Director and CEO the veteran banker Harris Premaratne said: “Our ultimate aim is to uplift the livelihood of all Sri Lankans. We will also focus on corporate customers and hope to revolutionise the manner in which banking in Sri Lanka is perceived by differentiating on the quality we offer our corporate customers. We will offer services based on their lifestyle and convenience, customised in line with their needs.”
The founding Board of Directors of Cargills Bank consists of Louis Page – Chairman; Ranjit Page – Deputy Chairman; Harris Premaratne – MD/CEO; Prabu Mathavan – Deputy MD/CFO; Deva Rodrigo, Mangala Boyagoda and Kamalini De Silva, who will provide guidance and strategic direction while ensuring the highest standards of corporate governance and robust risk management systems.
The bank’s operations will be headlined by a group of top calibre banking executives with vast expertise and exposure to local and international markets. Over the past year, the bank has recruited and trained a strong cadre of entry level university graduates and school-leavers who have received extensive training to deliver unsurpassed service standards.