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HSBC tops poll of world's most valuable banking brands

HSBC, Europe's largest bank by market value, has been named the world's most valuable banking brand according to the Banker magazine's Top 500 Financial Brands listing.

It was also the only bank featured in the study to achieve the highest possible triple 'A' brand rating. Yesterday's announcement follows last year's Interbrand study of the world's most valuable brands across all sectors which saw HSBC jump five places to 23, the second best growth performance of the top 40 companies surveyed.

Head of Group Marketing, HSBC, Chris Clark, said,"In just ten years the HSBC brand has become a very powerful asset. Our focus on emerging markets will be underpinned by the strength of the brand. Many customers across all our business lines are increasingly looking for services and solutions with an international dimension.

We are very well placed to help them and the brand sets out our credentials as these trends develop," "A great example of this was the launch of HSBC Premier in September last year. This was a fabulous illustration of the brand in action. Premier customers now have the ability to open accounts in 37 different countries and we can assist them wherever they are in the world using our network of branches and dedicated relationship managers," he added.

Editor of The Banker, Brian Caplen said, "Banks are increasingly aware of the value of their brand and how it underpins everything they do across all business lines and all geographies.

The Banker magazine, together with Brand Finance, has put together a unique listing based on brand values and we congratulate HSBC in coming out top in this year's poll." This year's Banker magazine listing highlights the emergence of Chinese banks as significant players on the international stage.

They now appear among the top 25 brands, illustrating the growing importance of China in the global economy.

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Sampath Bank donates library books to school



DONATION: Head of Marketing, Sampath Bank, Tharaka Ranwala enlightening the students on the value of gaining and sharing knowledge. In the background are the students who had gathered at the event.

Sampath Bank, in their efforts to serve the school communities in suburban and rural Sri Lanka has come forward with a donation of English medium library books to Mahamathya Vidyalaya in Athurugiriya.

The consignment of library books was handed over to the school at a ceremony held on Thursday, January 31 by Head of Marketing, Sampath Bank Ltd. Tharaka Ranwala. Mahamathya Vidyalaya has a total student population of over 1800 students consisting of low and middle income families in the area.

The school has commenced classes in English medium for the GCE Ordinary Level classes this year. However, the two school libraries serving the primary and upper school classes were in serious lack of quality English books.

Thus, Sampath Bank's donation consisting of reading material, dictionaries, encyclopedias and recommended text books comes as a timely and an invaluable contribution to the student community.

The Sampath team held a short seminar on the Value of English Language in the Present Context and Importance of Finance Management from school days after the book hand over ceremony.

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CEO changes at NDB Bank

Eran Wickremaratne succeeds Nihal Welikala:

The Chairman and Board of National Development Bank Plc (NDB) announced the retirement of its Chief Executive Officer Nihal Welikala, and the appointment of Eran Wickramaratne to this post, with effect from April. Welikala joined the former National Development Bank of Sri Lanka on January 1, 1999 and became Chief Executive Officer on January 1, 2002.

During this period, and under his leadership as Chief Executive Officer, NDB successfully completed an unprecedented and complex transformation from development to universal bank, while building solid financial strengths, and positioning the Group for further expansion, as described below.

Welikala is a Bachelor of Law of the University of Sri Lanka, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and an Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka. He was previously the Chief Executive Officer of Citibank NA Colombo.

He will continue to assist NDB in an advisory capacity, in its strategy for future growth.

Eran Wickramaratne, former Chief Executive Officer of NDB Bank Limited, and present Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the merged National Development Bank Plc takes over responsibility for the NDB Group consequent to a planned transition.

He joined NDB in April 1999 and has been closely associated with the transformation of the bank from its project finance roots to building a commercial and retail business.

Wickramaratne joined NDB from Citibank where he was Vice President and Corporate Bank Head. In addition to his private sector experience he was a pioneer of the Government of Sri Lanka's Information Communication Technology Driven Development Programme, e-Sri Lanka. He was founder Chairman of the Information Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and has also served as a Director of the Board of Investment.

He is a Graduate in Economics & Politics and has a Master of Science Degree in Economics from the University of London. Wickramaratne is an Eisenhower Fellow.

In recent years, the NDB Group has restructured and repositioned itself from the status of a Government owned development bank, to that of a fully integrated commercial bank with specialist skills in project finance, capital markets and insurance, which provide it with a unique competitive advantage.

Its core competency of long term project finance has been expanded to include trade finance, foreign exchange services and a range of shorter term products to meet the needs of the business sector from the largest corporates to small and medium enterprises throughout Sri Lanka.

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Standard Chartered Private Equity takes stake in Salamander Energy

Standard Chartered Private Equity (SCPE) has purchased a stake of approximately 4.2 per cent in Salamander Energy plc.

The investment was acquired from one of Salamander's pre-IPO investors in an off-market transaction.

"We are delighted to have become shareholders and to participate in Salamander's growth.

We have known the Salamander team for some time and respect the disciplined approach they have taken to building their business," commented SCPE's Managing Director based in Singapore Alastair Morrison.

"Upstream exploration and production requires investors who take a medium term view of value growth and understand the risks. This deal sits well with our investment approach," he added.

"Salamander operates in a core market for Standard Chartered and with the bank's established advisory, financing and hedging capabilities in the oil and gas sector, our equity team is expected to be increasingly active in the oil sector in future."

Salamander has built a South East Asia-focused portfolio of oil and gas opportunities spanning production, development and frontier exploration over the last three years.

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