|Welikala, NDBs new GM
Nihal Welikala took over as director/general manager of the National Development Bank (NDB) yesterday. He has been associated with the Bank for several years, having served on the Board of NDB as an alternate director for the ADB, since 1997, and subsequently joining the NDB as its deputy general manager in January 1999.
Prior to joining NDB, Welikala held the post of CEO of Citibank NA Colombo, for a period of 10 years. He also worked for several years at the London offices of Ernst and Young, early in his career as a chartered accountant. Welikala is a Bachelor of Law of the University of Sri Lanka, fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (England and Wales) and associate member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka.
He takes over as general manager, at a time of change at NDB. Commenting on the goals and challenges ahead, Welikala said, "Our vision is to build on the solid foundations which have been created over the last 22 years. These include, a strong capital base and profitability, a pre-eminent position in project lending, based on our unrivalled professional expertise, a culture of operational independence, and a diverse range of businesses. Based on these strengths, we intend to become a predominant provider of financial services in Sri Lanka."
"As multilateral lines of credit at concessionary rates dried up for reasons of global policy, and borrowings from the markets increased its interest costs, NDB proactively looked for new ways of doing business to enhance shareholder value. Thus, a process of diversification was started some years ago. The NDB group is now in businesses such as insurance, housing finance, investment banking, venture capital, stockbroking and leasing. The powerful commercial banking franchise recently acquired from ABN AMRO was the pinnacle of this process.
A medium-term strategy to synergise these businesses is now being formulated with the assistance of international consultants, the Monitor Group. The Group was founded by Michael Porter of "Competitive Advantages" fame, and specialises in business strategy.
While this plan is still taking shape, a few broad principles are clear. Firstly, that the way forward is one of growth. We cannot shrink our way to prosperity. Secondly, that we will achieve growth, not just as a specialist project lender, but by providing an array of financial services to our customers. We need to synergise, harmonise and rationalise the numerous businesses in our Group, if we are to achieve our vision. This is no easy task, as it involves radical change, indeed transformation, of the way we serve our customers.
However, I am confident, especially with new opportunities in the economy, which are opening up, that we will realise our goals. We have the financial muscle, the customer base, the market reputation, the talented people and the business franchises. We now need to walk the talk. We will make it happen." (NDB press release)
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