INTERVIEW WITH CHAIRMAN SONERI BANK
THE BANK HANDLED $2BN TRADE FINANCES IN 2008
Oct 26 - Nov 01, 2009
Incorporated in 1991 Soneri Bank Limited formally opened doors for operations by opening the first branch in Lahore on April 16, 1992 followed by Karachi Branch on May 09, 1992. The bank now operates with 135 branches spread all over Pakistan including the northern areas of the country where no other private bank has yet ventured.
Expansion of branches is based on a policy of maintaining a balance between the urban and rural areas with a view to offering services even in the remote areas of Pakistan. Pleasant and sophisticated atmosphere has been provided in the branches, which are all computerized and connected real time online.
Soneri Bank Limited is a public limited company which shares are quoted on the stock exchanges of Pakistan. The sponsor directors are from Rupali Group, which enjoys excellent reputation in the country both professionally and financially. They have invested over Rs. 10 billion approximately in various industrial and commercial projects of the country.
Mr. Alauddin J. Feerasta is the sitting chairman of Soneri Bank Limited. He is also chairman of Spintex Limited, Mirpur, Azad Kashmir, manufacturing polyester yarn. He is also the managing director of Rupali Nylon (Pvt.) Limited, a leading indenting house for export of cotton yarn and fabrics.
He engaged himself in industrial activities at an early age in 1967 by sharing hands with his elder brother (late) Badruddin J. Feerasta taking the entire responsibility to market their own manufactured nylon socks under the brand name of "Consul" in Narayanganj, formerly East Pakistan.
On migration to Pakistan in 1972 they again established the same business i.e. manufacturing nylon socks by setting up a new company under the name Rupa1i Nylon (Pvt.) Limited.
Mr. A1auddin J. Feerasta again took the responsibility of marketing not only his own products but also the consumer products in general. In 1973, he stepped into the international market when Rupali Nylon was appointed as a sole agent of world-renowned polyester manufacturers "Toray" for the import of nylon yarn, polyester yarn, and polyester fiber.
During 1986, Mr. Alauddin very successfully set up a new project under the name of Textorium Limited at Nooriabad in the province of Sindh with an investment of Rs. 170 million having an annual capacity to manufacture 2100 tons of polyester texturized yarn.
The year 1990 brought another landmark to Feerasta family when another unit was set up under the name of "Spintex Limited" in Azad Kashmir with an investment of over Rs. 1,500 million to manufacture 9800 tons of filament yarn annually. Mr. Alauddin Feerasta is the chairman of this project. The project implementation speed can be judged from the fact that it was put into commercial production within a short span of 12 months and the product was brought into the market in June 1991.
The year 1991 will be long remembered, as the Rupali Group was granted permission to establish commercial bank, indeed a pronounced acknowledgment of the inordinate overall success of the group. Soneri Bank Limited received an overwhelming response from the public as well as the commercial sector when it offered its shares to the public and also when it formally inaugurated its branches at Lahore and Karachi.
Mr. Alauddin Feerasta apart from being chairman Spintex Limited is also managing the overall import activities of the group and under his guidance the import/material department of the group is functioning. The import business of the entire Rupali Group ranges over two billion rupees.
Mr. Alauddin Feerasta's contribution towards developing the export market for Pakistani' products in Far East, especially in Hong Kong and Taiwan, is invaluable. The export figure of 70 million dollars speaks itself about the efforts made in this field.
In an exclusive interview with Pakistan and Gulf Economist (PAGE), Alauddin Feerasta shared his vast experience and vision regarding Soneri Bank Limited. Being a seasoned businessperson, he believes in hard work, commitment to work and fairness in business deals.
Talking about the bank, Alauddin Feerasta said Soneri Bank offered a full range of corporate, treasury, retail and consumer banking services with emphasis on trade finance related services to importers and exporters and attractive savings schemes for small investors, charitable/benevolent funds, trusts, societies, associations and clubs. He said, "The essence of business philosophy is to cater to the banking requirements of small & medium sized entrepreneurs, providing them qualitative & competitive services. Emphasis is on encouraging exports and major portion of the advances portfolio of the bank is related to export financing."
According to him, the Soneri bank has made good progress in the field of automation and related technologies. The bank owns a network of both On-site and Off-site ATMs with connectivity with all the ATMs across Pakistan of other banks. The swift online communication and messaging services for international banking are available to all the branches dealing in trade finance business for incoming and outgoing messages.
The 24 hours telephone banking facility has also been started for the customers for real time balance enquiry, instant statement of account, ATM related activities and cheque free banking. The bank has gone to franchise with visa international for its own debit card and has plans to add remote delivery channels and applications to the existing ones.
The bank operates six dedicated Islamic banking branches in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Peshawar, and Quetta. He said the response was encouraging and the bank planned to add more Islamic banking branches during 2009.
Answering a question, he said diversification of operations was continuing and the bank was looking forward to attain growth through broadening the consumer financing and SME financing base with the establishment of a full-fledged consumer finance & SME departments.
Feerasta said the Soneri bank has completed implementation of new core banking software in all the branches with major emphasis on increasing the efficiency of business processes using centralized architecture.
Pakistan Credit Rating Agency Limited (PACRA) has maintained bank's credit rating at "AA-" for long term and "A1 +"for short term. These ratings reflect bank's well maintained risk profile with preserved sound asset quality stemming from the bank's low risk appetite and sustained policy of maintaining high liquidity.
He further said that extensive correspondent network and the excellent relations with foreign correspondents had proved valuable in conducting trade finance international business.
The Soneri bank was able to handle trade finance business of over US$ 2 Billion in 2008. Major international banks have made available substantial credit lines to the bank, he said. Soneri Bank is also enlisted by IFC in its Global Trade Finance Program.
Rs in Million
|Financing to Customers||47,575||40,154||35,412||32,052|
|Import & Export Business||160,249||130,825||101,802||97,500|
|PAYOUT TO SHARE HOLDERS|
|1993||10 percent Right Shares|
|1994||15 percent Bonus Shares|
|1995||15 percent Cash Dividend|
|1996||17.5 percent Cash Dividend|
|1997||20 percent Bonus Shares|
|1998||10 percent Interim Bonus Shares, 10 percent Final Cash Dividend|
|1999||25 percent Bonus Shares|
|2000||25 percent Bonus Shares|
|2001||30 percent Bonus Shares|
|2002||10 percent Cash Dividend|
|2003||25 percent Bonus Shares|
|2004||30 percent Bonus Shares|
|2005||10 percent Cash Dividend, 30 percent Bonus Shares|
|2006||25 percent Right Shares, 30 percent Bonus Shares|
|2007||20 percent Bonus Shares|
|2008||22 percent Bonus Shares|