One more feather is adding to the cap of HSBC's successful operations in Bangladesh as the stage is all set to launch the country's first satellite.
The London-based banking giant has lent 155 million euros or about Tk 1,400 crore for Bangabandhu-1 satellite, which will be sent into orbit from its launching pad in Florida.
“It is a great accomplishment for the country and we are proud to play our part in achieving this milestone,” said Francois de Maricourt, chief executive officer of HSBC Bangladesh, in an interview with The Daily Star.
The Bangabandhu-1 Satellite, which is scheduled to be launched today if weather permits, will be the first Bangladeshi geostationary communications satellite.
It will enable the country to own and provide communications and broadcasting services locally and regionally.
It is expected to bring uninterrupted telecommunication systems to Bangladesh, including television, telephone and internet services, which the country usually purchases from overseas.
The satellite will have 40 transponders capable of serving the member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation along with Indonesia and the Philippines, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Once launched, Bangabandhu-1 is expected to save the national exchequer a sizeable amount in broadcasting expenditure annually.
The project is a highly technical and sophisticated one which different from normal banking operations. But Maricourt said HSBC has special financing teams globally, including in France and Hong Kong, who are capable of handling these types of tech-savvy projects.
For the project, the bank's satellite financing team in HSBC France worked closely with HSBC Hong Kong and HSBC Bangladesh to successfully arrange the financing.
HSBC has experience in financing satellites globally, including for O3B in Jersey, Measat Global Berhad in Malaysia, Yahsat in the UAE, and Asia Broadcasting Satellite in Hong Kong.
In September 2016, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission signed an agreement with HSBC to borrow the money for the satellite.
The deal is the first of its kind in the country's telecom sector and an example of HSBC's global network covering 67 countries and territories all over the world.
The deal also received the “Telecoms deal of the year in Bangladesh” award at The Asset Asian Awards 2017.
Hong Kong-based multi-media company The Asset gave the award.
Maricourt, however, declined to share any information on the interest rate and the beginning of the repayment.
HSBC opened its first office in Dhaka in 1996. Since its establishment, HSBC has been striving to become a trusted partner of Bangladesh's economic growth and prosperity, according to the CEO.
Its key business areas are commercial banking, including award-winning payments and cash management services and global trade and receivables finance, retail banking and global markets.
Maricourt said HSBC is aligned with Bangladesh's development strategy, supporting long-term projects which would boost the country's economic growth.
HSBC Bangladesh's contribution to the power sector includes more than $1 billion of financing to implement four major power projects for Bangladesh Power Development Board.
The financing supported the installation of new 1.3 gigawatts of power generating plants which is about 11 percent of the country's present electricity production capacity.
HSBC is also supporting the country's first cross-border electricity import of 250MW from India on an annual basis and the import of liquefied natural gas.
“This has supported the government's plan to diversify the energy source to opt for low-cost fuel sourcing for power generation,” Maricourt said.
HSBC is the only bank in Bangladesh that has a presence in all eight export procession zones of the country.
“Our presence in the EPZ's helps facilitate foreign direct investment flowing into the country.”
He said the bank is viewed as an expert in managing the foreign investment of the country who has leveraged its global footprint to connect buyer-supplier network for Bangladesh through global trade chain, project and export finance, and other product suites.
“HSBC has facilitated local conglomerates and international subsidiaries in their business expansion.”
In the last five years, HSBC also arranged $200 million of export credit agency-backed financing for the private sector, providing the local conglomerates with a gateway to the international debt market.
He also touched upon the overall Bangladesh economy and its potential.
According to HSBC Global Research, Bangladesh has a lot going for it.
Maricourt said the economy has consistently grown in excess of 6 percent a year for the past decade. Gross domestic product grew 7.3 percent last year, making it the fastest growing economy in Asia.
Demographic trends such as urbanisation, smaller households, technology and increasing involvement of women in paid work and children in schools are all positive, with an increased ability to save and indulge in discretionary spending.
“A new consumer class is emerging that wants to enjoy the better things in life.”
The big challenges such as power shortages and poor infrastructure are starting to be addressed, he said.
He said remittances from Bangladeshi workers abroad help keep external account problems at bay while growth soars.
“This market deserves more attention than it gets."