June 6 - 12, 20

Mr. Munir Saleem is country's outstanding banker. He is acting President of KASB Bank which is making progress under his dynamic leadership.

In an interview with Pakistan and Gulf Economist (PAGE), Munir Saleem said the KASB Bank has evolved an aggressive strategy for 2011-12. "We plan to extend our branch network with increase in ATMs. Our products are getting massive public support, as we are determined to further improve the bank's corporate image by increasing its visibility to customers and increasing deposits. KASB Bank's future is bright and promising," he said.

He said the KASB Bank has further strengthened its position as the leading investment bank in Pakistan, with our powerful brand name remaining synonymous with industry expertise. "Our ability to provide our clients with customized financial solutions, furnishing their individual business needs, has strengthened us in an increasingly competitive market," he said.

Mr. Munir Saleem said: "Our continuing collaboration with our international partners, Merrill Lynch, has provided us with unparalleled access to global resources, as our teams continue to work closely with each other in the local and international arena. We are proud to highlight KASB's leading role in attracting foreign interest in Pakistan."

Saleem said KASB's unwavering client focus lies at the foundation of our success as our team relentlessly devotes itself to providing each client with the most optimizing solutions. "The diverse backgrounds of our team members, spanning from finance to engineering to political science, allow us to formulate unique business opportunities with each team member bringing with them a distinctive skill set. Our experience and dedication has been rewarded by numerous accolades year after year, and in 2007, KASB Capital received the CFA Institute Award for Best Corporate Finance House of the Year and the Euro money Award for Pakistan Investment Bank of the Year," he said.

According to him, KASB Bank is now serving through 104 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 Bank's aim is to assist its customers in fulfilling their banking needs of today and realizing ambitions for tomorrow, by offering a comprehensive range of financial services, while ensuring service excellence. "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.

Saleem said: "Our Corporate Banking Unit operates as a strategic partner for corporate entities. Corporate Banking Unit's mission is to serve all corporate needs by adding efficiencies and values through personalized relationship management. A team of experienced and skilled professionals who have the requisite understanding and technical ability to deliver towards varied business needs manages the business unit. We understand the expectations of our corporate customers and offer tailor-made products and services to meet their demands. The core strategy is to focus on customer's needs and meet their perceived value by delivering quality services in quick turnaround times."

He said: "Our Corporate Banking Unit is fully equipped with innovative tools to provide services to its valued customers for:

- Working Capital and Trade Finance solutions, including Imports, Exports, Guarantees, FOREX Options, and Remittances.

- Long Term needs, through debt financing. Tailor-made balance sheet structuring is also offered through our investment banking unit's expertise.

- Cash Management through a dedicated and innovative cash management unit.

Keeping in view of SMEs contribution to GDP of Pakistan, Munir Saleem said KASB Bank has endeavored to tap the potential of SME segment with its dedicated SME banking segment. The segment strives to help you capitalize on the right opportunities for your business. The wide range of specifically designed assets and liability products equips you with the most powerful tools to transform your business opportunities into profitable ventures. Our ultimate goal is to provide optimum level of financing to fuel the growth of your business, he added.

Terming Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) as a major challenge for the banking sector in Pakistan, Munir Saleem said NPLs posted a phenomenal surge of over Rs100 billion to hit an all-time high of Rs548 billion by the end of last calendar year (CY10), posing new challenges and credit risks to the growing banking industry.

According to him, the challenge of reversing the rising trend in NPLs is still not over and with Rs53.7 billion of incremental NPLs in the last quarter of CY10, infection ratio (NPLs to loans) has further deteriorated to 14.7 percent in December 2010, as it stood at 14 percent in December 2009.

Quoting the SBP statistics, Munir Saleem said NPLs registered a massive increase of 23 percent or Rs102 billion to Rs548 billion as on December 31, 2010 compared with Rs446 billion as on December 31, 2009. However, despite massive build-up of NPLs in the fourth quarter of CY10, year-on-year trend shows a marginal slowdown. Specifically, banks experienced a relatively slower growth in NPLs during CY10, compared with 24.2 percent in CY09 and 64.8 percent in CY08. On a positive note, 77.6 percent of incremental NPLs during Q4 were confined to a handful of banks, with some banks even enjoying a YoY decline.

To a query, he was of the view that in testing times, relentless borrowings by the government have been a blessing for commercial banks, providing a convenient option to place bulk of their funds in risk-free securities.

As per analysis, he said that NPLs of public sector commercial banks mounted by 39 percent or Rs46 billion to Rs164 billion in CY10. NPLs of local private banks grew by 17 percent or Rs51 billion to 344 billion in December 2010 from Rs293 billion in December 2009. With an increase of Rs4 billion, NPLs of specialised banks stood at Rs32 billion at end of CY10 compared with Rs28 billion in CY09. NPLs of foreign banks posted only one billion rupees surge and at end of last calendar year, it mounted to Rs7 billion from Rs6 billion.

To another query, Munir Saleem said future of banking industry is bright in the country, as only 30 million people used banking services. He said: "KASB Bank is expanding its operation to provide state-of-the-art services to people. We are extending quality banking service with high rate of return and people need to use better value of their money."

He was of the view that free market economy is vital to achieve the goal of progress and prosperity. To a query, he said the interest rate would decline with cut in inflation.