Four SoCBs, ICB to invest Tk 10b: Farmers Bank bonds

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MT Reporte:

Four state-owned commercial banks (SoCB) and a financial institution will invest Tk 10 billion (1000 crore) more in the troubled Farmers Bank Limited (FBL) through subscribing subordinated bonds.

The latest development came in a review meeting of the FBL held at the central bank headquarters in Dhaka on Sunday with Bangladesh Bank (BB) Governor Fazle Kabir in the chair.

Under the latest decision, taken by the board of directors of the FBL earlier, Sonali Bank Limited will subscribe to bonds worth Tk 3.0 billion while the Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB) will invest Tk 1.0 billion in the bonds.

Three other SoCBs -Janata, Agrani and Rupali – will subscribe to bonds worth Tk 2.0 billion each, according to sources both at the BB and the FBL.

Earlier four SoCBs and the ICB were included in the reconstituted board of the private commercial bank (PCB) as directors on their injection of Tk 7.15 billion as equity into the FBL in a bid to rescue it.

The meeting reviewed the latest overall performance of the troubled fourth generation PCB and advised the top management of the bank to gear up their ongoing recovery drives.

Among others, Banking Reform Adviser of the BB SK Sur Chowdhury and Deputy Governors of the central bank Abu Hena Mohd. Razee Hassan and SM Moniruzzaman took part in the meeting.

On the other hand, members of the FBL board including its Chairman Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat and Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ehsan Khasru attended the meeting.

At the meeting, FBL MD and CEO Ehsan Khasru presented a performance report on the bank highlighting the latest state of key indicators of the bank.

When contacted, the FBL MD said: “The floating of subordinated bonds will be completed in two phases.”

The process of issuing bonds worth Tk 5.0 billion has already started under phase-I that would end by the current month, he added.

“Phase-II will start from October, 2018,” the senior banker explained.

Earlier, the central bank of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) had given permissions to the FBL to float subordinated bonds worth Tk 10 billion aiming to enhance their capital base. “We’ve given permission on issuance of bonds to the bank to help strengthen their capital base in line with the Basel-III framework,” a BB senior official told the FE earlier.

He also said the bonds would also help the bank meet their capital problem. “The bank is allowed to use the proceeds from sales of the bonds to meet its own requirement.”

Earlier on January 14, Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat was elected new chairman of the Farmers Bank, replacing Mohammad Masud.

The board of directors of the bank was reconstituted with the election of a new chairman and a vice-chairman on November 27 last. Mohammad Masud and Maruf Alam had been elected chairman and vice-chairman respectively then. The same day, Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, a ruling Awami League lawmaker and former minister, resigned as the bank’s chairman. The bank’s audit-committee chairman and director Mahabubul Haque Chisty, alias Babul Chisty, also stepped down.

On December 19 last, the central bank removed the Farmers Bank’s MD and CEO AKM Shameem over failure in liquidity management.

The central bank appointed an observer to the FBL on January 13, 2016 for improving its financial health through strengthening monitoring and supervision of the bank’s operations.

The BB’s observer appointment came after detecting irregularities in sanctioning and disbursing loans and hiding information on non-performing loans amounting to around Tk 4.0 billion in the FBL.

Three central bank investigation teams found the irregularities in inspections at the bank’s Gulshan, Motijheel and Shyampur branches in the capital between September and November 2015.

The FBL started its journey on June 03, 2013 aiming to provide efficient banking services to all levels of customers and thus contribute to socio-economic development of the country.

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