Nov 8 - 14, 20

Munir Saleem is one of the country's senior most bankers who possess vast experience in almost all fields of banking disciplines. He is considered as an institution in Pakistani banking industry due to his diversified experience.

Munir Saleem is currently serving as senior executive vice-president/ group executive commercial banking in KASB Bank.

In an interview with Pakistan and Gulf Economist, Munir Saleem shared his experiences and future of Pakistani banking sector.

Munir Saleem said that non-performing loans are one of the major threats confronted to the Pakistani banking sector at present. He was of the view that the rising NPLs could prove fatal for the banking sector as well as for the economy. "Rising non-performing loans are hampering the profitability of local banks. Primarily high interest rate, economic slowdown, poor law and order situation and lesser repaying capacity of SMEs and middle market are the main factors behind NPLs," he opined.

In the KASB Bank, he added that total amount of outstanding loans stood at Rs40 billion with 12 per cent share in total NPLs.

Talking about the history of KASB Bank, Munir Saleem said: "KASB Bank Limited was incorporated on October 13, 1994 as Platinum Commercial Bank Limited whose name was subsequently changed to KASB Bank Limited on February 21, 2003 when the majority shareholding was acquired by the KASB Group. The merger of Khadim Ali Shah Bukhari & Co. and KASB Leasing Limited into the KASB Bank increased the paid-up capital of the bank to Rs1.293 billion as on December 31, 2003 complying with the regulatory requirements. The bank also has a 100 per cent stake in KASB Securities (Pvt) Limited and KASB Technology Services Limited."

Munir Saleem said the KASB Bank now operates through 100 branches in 38 cities of Pakistan offering unique and innovative financial solutions to a large portfolio of investment, corporate and consumer banking customers. The bank has been assigned medium to long term entity rating by Pacra of A- (Single A minus ) and short term rating of A2 (Single A Two). The KASB Bank's aim is to assist its clients in fulfilling their banking needs of today and realising their ambitions for tomorrow by offering a comprehensive range of financial services, while ensuring service excellence.

"Further, we provide our customers access to a broader range of funding sources, made possible by the group's strong network of local and international relationships."

The bank also offers a host of financial services offered by the KASB Group, he said adding, KASB Bank has endeavored to tap the potential of SME segment with its dedicated SME banking segment.

Praising Nasir Ali Shah Bukhari, sitting Chairman of KASB Bank, Munir Saleem said KASB Group, established by Khadim Ali Shah Bukhari in 1958, has a long-standing tradition of excellence in financial services in Pakistan, specialising primarily in investment banking, research, brokerage, asset management and banking.

"Our relationship with Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) makes us unique in terms of the services we provide to our clients," he said, adding: vision of KASB Bank's chairman is to make the bank as one of the top banks of the country through commitment, honesty and hard work upholding merit in all its dealings.

"We facilitate governments, local and multinational companies with independent, objective advice on privatisations, mergers and acquisitions, and the issuance of debt and equity capital. As the leading advisor in Pakistan, we helped bring in over US$1.5 billion foreign direct investment (approximately 30 per cent of total FDI) in the fiscal year 2006-07 and continue to highlight Pakistan investment opportunities to international corporations and global private equity/hedge funds. Our main focus is to provide our clients par excellence services in advisory, equity capital markets and debt capital markets," Munir Saleem said.

With KASB Bank, non-resident Pakistanis (NRPs) can transfer money back home to relatives and friends easily and on a regular basis. We provide safe and secure money transfer facilities in almost any currency, he said, adding: "The State Bank of Pakistan had awarded PRI (Pakistan remittances initiatives) License to KASB Bank in this regard."

Munir Saleem said he foresees bright future of Pakistani banking sector because there is a room to tap the potential existing in the country. He said out of population of 170 million, only 35 million population enjoys banking facilities. "Pakistani banking is not focusing on rural population which is almost 70 per cent of the total population," he said.

He added that KASB Bank is focusing on rural areas and more and more branches are being set up to cater the banking needs of the country's rural population.

To a question, he said there was misconception that profit margin of banks is declining. He said banks are fetching profit, although, profit margin of small banks is low.

He further said that the KASB Bank money market desk provides its customers with a variety of advisory and investment services. "We offer our customers competitive quotes and investment advice based on their specific needs. We also allow our customers to invest in government securities by opening an IPS (investor portfolio services) account on their behalf with the State Bank of Pakistan."

Munir Saleem further said that KASB Modaraba is a multipurpose, perpetual and multidimensional Modaraba, floated as First Mehran Modaraba in October 1990 under the Modaraba Companies and Modaraba (Flotation and Control) Ordinance, 1980. Its name was changed to KASB Modaraba after its acquisition by KASB Group in 2007. It is managed by KASB Modaraba Management (Private) Limited, which is a subsidiary of KASB Bank Limited.

KASB Modaraba is an islamic financial institution extending financial facilities to its customers on Islamic principles of Shariah and working under the supervision of the religious board of the securities and exchange commission of Pakistan. The Modaraba is listed on Karachi and Lahore stock exchanges, he added.

About the bank products, he said recently KASB Bank launched summer account for people of 60 years and above with 13-per cent return rate. "We have planned to launch four new products in the year 2011 for our clients."

"Our vision is to visualise creating an institution, where customers intending to pursue business aspirations within the confines of Islamic law are offered a platform to do so. We also intends to move into the league of Islamic banks, in terms of size, quality of operations and product sophistication, while raising stakeholders value within the just principles of Islamic law," Munir Saleem said.