PACRA Upgrades Entity Ratings of The Bank of Punjab
The Bank of Punjab has built a franchise around its name, which itself is a reflection of strong parentage. The sponsor has been instrumental in the revival of the Bank and now the institution stands on its own support. It took a long period which witnessed concerted efforts by the management duly backed by the sponsors' support to reinvigorate the Bank. The incumbent management, led by the new leadership, is poised to take it forward. The envisaged strategy encompasses a documented vision and defined road map to make a place for BOP in the top list of the banking industry. The incumbent management has revamped and strengthened governance and compliance structure in-place which is essential for oversight and dynamic operations of the Bank. The areas of focus envision three phases (control, consolidation & growth), which help lead the bank from augmented control environment to growth arena. Customer focus and geographical diversification and expansion are the key elements. The Bank grew its customers deposit's base by 21% to stand at PKR 835bln - higher than the industry's growth where deposits remained tilted towards saving. The system share of the Bank has taken a positive contribution from the growth, which would lead the bank towards being classified as a large bank. The concentration of government and public sector deposits remain high. Asset quality remains a challenge where hike in NPLs during the year has led to increased provisioning expense being recorded. However, on prudence basis, subjective classification and general provisioning was done to ensure that asset quality remains unimpaired going-forth. Improving asset quality while growth in advances book remains essential. The bank's Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) clocked in at 16.2% as at end-Dec20 (end-Dec19: 14.8%), providing BOP with a healthy cushion to expand its advances' book in-line with it’s stated strategy, whereby the growth in risk assets will be covered through insurance and first-loss guarantees wherever available. The top management is very much motivated and focused in further enhancing profitability and strengthening the Bank's relative position. COVID-19 is an ongoing challenge. While it has taken a toll on many businesses, its ramifications are still unfolding. The proactive measures taken by the regulators and other concerning bodies, along-side the measures taken by the banks, have mitigated the potential damages much anticipated from this pandemic. As a result, the banking industry remained protected and in fact posted record profits. Vigilance is required as the loan repayment cycle remains amid variants of the pandemic continue to re-emerge.
The ratings are dependent on the financial risk profile of the bank, mainly emanating from sustenance of capital adequacy and continued healthy profitability trend in line with the management's plans. Any weakening in asset quality will in turn put pressure on the bank's profitability and risk absorption capacity.
The Bank of Punjab, established under the BOP Act 1989, is listed on Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). The bank operates a vast network of 636 branches as at end Dec-20, mainly concentrated in Punjab. The Government of Punjab (GoPb) holds majority stake in BOP (57%), whereas the rest is widely dispersed.
The bank’s President & CEO – Mr. Zafar Masud was appointed as President & CEO by the GoPb on 17th March, 2020 and assumed the charge on 16th April, 2020. The senior management consists of seasoned bankers. The current team has played a pivotal role in the bank's revival; their continuity and cohesiveness is critical for successful execution of the envisaged business plan.