Karachi, 29 July 2021
HBL today declared its H1 2021 results, continuing its momentum from the previous quarter and growing its consolidated profit before tax (PBT) for Q2 2021 by 15% over Q1 2021. Total PBT for H1 2021 increased by 21% to Rs. 31.2 billion. HBL’s profit after tax crossed Rs. 18.0 billion, with earnings per share growing from Rs. 10.32 in H1 2020 to Rs. 12.04 in H1 2021. Along with the results, the Bank declared a dividend of Rs. 1.75 per share (17.5%).
The Bank’s fortress balance sheet grew by nearly Rs. 600 billion during the quarter, crossing the Rs. 4 trillion mark, a growth of 7% over Dec 2020. This was driven by strong deposit growth as HBL became the first bank in Pakistan to mobilize a deposit base of over Rs. 3 trillion, while achieving another industry first – current accounts exceeding Rs. 1 trillion. Domestic advances achieved a landmark of Rs. 1 trillion. The Bank’s Consumer business delivered a strong performance, with its industry-leading loan book growing by 14% over Dec 2020 to Rs. 90 billion.
HBL grew its average balance sheet by more than Rs. 400 billion, achieving a growth of 3% in net interest income to Rs. 64.9 billion. Excluding capital gains, the Bank’s non-fund income has risen by an impressive 62% over H1 2020. Fees and commissions increased by 32% YoY to nearly Rs. 12 billion with standout contributions from Cards and Consumer Finance and a solid growth in trade, where volumes increased by over 85%.
Total expenses remained under check, declining by 2% over the same period of last year. HBL successfully continued the reduction in its cost to income ratio which fell from 59.8% in H1 2020 to 56.8% in H1 2021. Total NPLs of the Bank declined by Rs. 5.5 billion over Dec 2020 and the infection ratio fell to an all-time low of 5.5%.
During the quarter, the Bank’s credit ratings were re-affirmed by VIS Credit Rating Company Ltd at AAA/A-1+ for long term and short term respectively. The rating of its TFCs issued as Additional Tier 1 Capital have been reaffirmed as AA+. The Outlook on all ratings is Stable.
Commenting on the Bank’s performance, Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO – HBL said, “HBL continued its strong business momentum from the previous quarter ending H1 2021 on a solid footing. This performance is impressive as it comes against a backdrop of significant spread compression across the banking sector. HBL has achieved several significant milestones during this period, notable being strengthening of the Bank’s balance sheet and an excellent performance in fees and commissions.”
HBL’s Consumer Financing grew 14% closing at Rs. 90 billion. The Bank remains a market leader in personal loans, merchant acquiring, credit cards and debit cards. Its auto financing business is #2 in the country with the highest number of cars financed. The usage of both Debit & Credit cards was over Rs. 80 billion, up by 65% over the same period last year. The Bank’s merchant acquiring business has the largest Point of Sale network of 33,000 terminals in the country and recorded a growth of 44% with a volume of Rs. 78 billion which is the highest in the country.
The Bank is committed to growing both its SME and Rural banking being priority sectors. These businesses closed with Rs. 59 billion and Rs. 35 billion respectively. Under SME banking, various initiatives were taken to grow this segment with the overall strategic intent which included overachieving the target under the Prime Minister’s Kamyab Jawan Scheme and grew its POS Financing, a product targeted towards the needs of merchants and retailers. SME trade volume recorded a growth of nearly 30%. The bank’s leading rural banking business launched new initiatives including Dairy Financing and lending under Rural Value Chain to ensure financial inclusion of small agricultural entrepreneurs.
HBL Mobile and Internet Banking volumes more than doubled from Rs. 215 billion in H1 2020 to Rs. 466 billion in H1 2021. The Bank achieved a landmark milestone of crossing 2 million users on its Mobile & Internet Banking apps.
Konnect by HBL, the Bank’s branchless banking platform, continued its growth with transactions nearly doubling and volumes reaching Rs. 210 billion. An aggressive acquisition strategy led to a 61% increase in app registrations and 34% increase in overall account portfolio.
Konnect entered an exclusive partnership with Punjab Agriculture division to provide an instant agriculture subsidy directly to registered farmers. Rs 9.5 billion in subsidies have been disbursed to more than 800,000 eligible farmers under the scheme. Konnect continued to work with the Government of Pakistan to deliver the Ehsaas Kafalat and Emergency Cash Program.
The Roshan Digital Account (RDA) portfolio maintained its growth momentum and stood at Number 1 both in accounts opened and activated. The Bank has brought in over USD 219 million since the inception of the proposition in September 2020.
The Bank launched HBL Prestige, a Priority Banking proposition for High Net Worth Individuals, providing exclusive bespoke banking services to cater to these clients.
HBL Islamic Banking is on track to convert 200 Islamic windows to dedicated branches expanding its reach to over 300 cities. The Bank drives the Government’s low-cost housing initiatives through various channels, including 916 dedicated Islamic branches and Islamic windows and its branchless banking proposition, Konnect by HBL, and has added another trade hub in the heart of the trade center of Karachi.
HBL’s financial inclusion thrust is being led through the Development Finance initiative. The Bank scaled up its 2020 proof-of- concept interventions by over 30 times through mid-scale pilots led by a team of field-based, full-time agronomists who used handheld tablets to digitally on-board farmers onto HBL Pay. With tailored crop plans linked to loan applications, small scale farmers were advised on how to significantly increase crop yields. Pilot projects of 3,200 acres (maize crop) and 7,000 acres (rice crop) are underway in this initiative.
In H1 2021 the Bank successfully concluded several transactions across various sectors including Oil & Gas, Telecom, Cement, Renewable Energy and Real Estate. Notable transactions include Pakistan’s first Green Eurobond Issuance of USD 500 million, without a Government of Pakistan guarantee. HBL played an instrumental role as a Co-Manager of the transaction. Similarly, HBL was the Joint Mandated Lead Advisor & Arranger, as well as the Agent Bank in the largest Telecom sector financing of Rs. 50 billion.
Trade business at HBL increased its market share to over 12%. The business showed 89% YoY growth in volumes (from USD 3.4 Billion to USD 6.4 Billion) whereas the number of transactions increased by 35% over the same period last year.
HBL became the first Pakistani bank to open a branch in Beijing, China. HBL Beijing is the Bank’s second branch in China. HBLPSL 6 successfully concluded during the quarter.
During H1 2021, HBL won the 2021 Euromoney Award for “Best Bank in Pakistan” and the 2021 Asiamoney Award for “Best Domestic Bank.” HBL was also awarded “Best Investment Bank” by Finance Asia and won four awards at the Pakistan Digital Awards 2021. The HBLPSL digital show won awards at the prestigious Effie and the Pakistan Digital Awards.
Karachi, 28 July 2021
HBL has launched WhatsApp Banking for its customers enabling them to avail select banking services through the platform. The service is powered by E Ocean, a leading Cloud Communications provider.
HBL WhatsApp Banking solution facilitates one-to-one conversations with customers seamlessly, and responds to queries, real time in a secure way. Customers can simply send a message via WhatsApp to the HBL UAN number (021-111-111-425) and request for their account balance, acquire product information, inquire about Roshan Digital Account (RDA) Services, locate nearest ATMs and Branches and obtain responses to FAQs. Furthermore, RDA customers can also chat with live agents via this messaging application.
With the deployment of the of the WhatsApp Banking service, HBL has further solidified its customer-centric digital banking and aims to develop a deeper understanding of customer needs to serve them better by offering intuitive banking solutions.
Abrar Ahmed Mir, Chief Innovation & Financial Inclusion Officer – HBL, commenting on the deployment said, “We are happy to be partnering with eOcean for the deployment of the WhatsApp Banking service. This offering is a pivotal step in providing HBL’s customers, especially those who are frequent users of WhatsApp, seamless customer service through this Conversational Messaging platform. This is in line with the Bank’s
focus on keeping our customers at the forefront of our digital transformation journey and continuing to empower them with hassle-free, convenient lifestyle options.”
Altaf Siddiqui, Director of Pre-sales and Products at E Ocean said, “Being a first official WhatsApp Business Solution Provider in Pakistan, we are truly grateful and honored to partner with HBL for trusting us to deliver WhatsApp banking for its customers for a secure and seamless banking experience. At E Ocean we have witnessed first-hand the support and cooperation extended to us by HBL team to deliver a complex on-premises solution in record time.”
Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO - HBL (Left) and Fawad Ahmed Mukhtar, CEO Fatima Group (Right), signing the agreement between the two organizations.
Karachi, 28 July 2021
HBL and Agro Digital (Pvt.) Limited (a Fatima Group company) signed a strategic partnership through an MOU that encompasses jointly exploring various activities that will have a sustainable impact on the agriculture sector whilst uplifting the financial well-being of small farmers in Pakistan
HBL’s Development Finance Group (DFG) is tasked with deepening and widening the agro-ecosystem using innovative technologies and fair priced financing solutions to augment Pakistan’s agriculture value chain under a unique ‘Farm-to-Fork’ model. The Bank has successfully launched pilots on major food crops that involve optimized agronomy advisory alongside fair-priced quality inputs and mechanized services in the form of ‘in kind’ loans. These have been ‘tailored for each farmer in the field’, by the agronomists employed by HBL. Farmers are on boarded digitally via HBL Pay and loans are approved swiftly using the end-to-end seamless digital process.
Fatima Group is an established name in the agri sector and is playing a major role in key crops of the country. It has a strong footprint in Pakistan’s agricultural sector. Its flagship brand “Sarsabz” is the fertilizer of choice amongst millions of farmers across Pakistan and is used for all crops and in all seasons. It contributes to the national economy by enhancing crop yields of more than 10 million acres through provision of value-added fertilizers, thus contributing to the national food security. In addition, Fatima Group has one of the largest teams of agriculture experts in the country providing advisory services to Farmers.
Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO – HBL, commenting on the occasion said, “HBL is committed to empowering the marginalized and underserved sectors of the economy, leading to a more financially inclusive society. HBL’s strategic alliance with Agro Digital (Fatima Group) will enable farmers, who are the backbone of our country, to build a secure livelihood. Investing in the agricultural sector is an integral part of the Bank’s business agenda and is in line with the Government of Pakistan’s vision of building a prosperous agricultural economy that will contribute to the national GDP and uplift rural communities.”
Fawad Ahmed Mukhtar, CEO Fatima Group, commenting on the MOU signing said, “Fatima Group’s vision is to bring about transformation of Pakistan’s agriculture sector. We are an active partner with the Governments of Pakistan & China under CPEC-II Agriculture Development Initiative and are collaborating with reputed companies to bring high quality seed of cotton and other value-added crops in Pakistan. Our aim is to develop a well-integrated and vibrant agriculture ecosystem with an objective to fulfil farmer needs of access to finance, inputs, markets and information by using latest technologies. We are also striving to bring modern crop-production technologies to develop end-to-end value chain of agri products. This collaboration between Fatima Group and HBL will assist farmers with access to quality seeds & fertilizers, crop management advisory services and mechanization services resulting in better yields.”
27 July 2021
CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor, has announced a $50 million risk-sharing facility with HBL UK, the majority-owned subsidiary of HBL, Pakistan’s largest private sector bank. The facility will increase HBL UK’s capacity to support trade with local banks and trade supply chains across South Asia and Africa.
As COVID-19 continues to disrupt trade in goods and commodities, CDC and HBL UK’s facility will provide critical credit support to ensure consumers have access to essential goods and services. It will boost the import of food and agricultural commodities, metals, machinery and other essential resources. The risk-sharing facility will increase economic opportunities across a wide socio-economic strata and support businesses despite the impact of COVID-19 on economic activity, particularly in markets where HBL has a strong regional presence such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka
This latest commitment from CDC builds on an existing partnership with HBL that spans over five years. It is aligned with the common goal of both organisations of extending financial inclusion across South Asia. The facility will also help HBL UK broaden its reach across Africa, allowing it to provide liquidity to local banks and keep economic activities flowing – much needed support at a time when local banks and businesses struggle to access foreign exchange.
Admir Imami, Director, Head of Trade & Supply Chain Finance, CDC, said: “We are thrilled that CDC’s facility to HBL UK will strengthen the bank’s ability to offer necessary support to local financial institutions, banks and business that are sustaining local economies and meeting basic consumer needs. CDC is committed to focusing its capital toward helping to mitigate the impact of the pandemic throughout Asia and Africa’s markets, even as Covid-19 exacerbates existing pressures on trade finance. We are pleased that our partnership with HBL UK will help address the financing gap to local businesses, sustain supply chain and trade flows, and ensure communities and businesses can recover and grow.”
Andreas Ponce de Leon, Chief Executive Officer, HBL UK, added: “We are proud of the partnership between HBL UK and CDC. At HBL, we are centred on our customers’ needs and that means supporting the communities in which we operate and do business. This partnership will help us sustain growth in our core markets. By supporting local banks, we facilitate access to trade finance needed by growing business, and thereby we help boost exports, create new jobs, promote financial inclusion and underpin economic growth.”
HBL wins “Best Bank in Pakistan 2021” award by Euromoney The Bank also wins ‘Pakistan’s Best Domestic Bank 2021’ award by Asiamoney
Karachi, 15 July 2021
Euromoney awards HBL the accolade of Pakistan’s Best Bank 2021. Earlier this year, the Bank also won Asiamoney award for Best Domestic Bank in Pakistan 2021.
These two awards are the most prestigious awards in the banking industry, globally.
These awards are a recognition of the HBL’s leadership performance and innovative approach in its Consumer banking, Commercial banking and Development Finance business streams, leveraging its digital banking platforms, leading the way in financial inclusion, and the launch of the Beijing branch and capturing opportunities associated with the CPEC initiative.
These are undoubtedly very well-deserved accolades as they come against a backdrop of unprecedented challenging times globally, including Pakistan.
The Euromoney citation for HBL acknowledges “Habib Bank (HBL) is going from strength to strength under Muhammad Aurangzeb (President & CEO). Remarkably, in a year when most banks around the world were trying to stem the losses caused by Covid, HBL doubled its after-tax profits to PKR 30.9 billion ($193.4 million).”
The citation makes specific reference to HBL’s business strength in e-payments, cards, auto and trade businesses.
Remarking on HBL’s rural banking/development finance initiative, the citation reads “Agriculture is a mainstay of HBL’s innovative efforts; the bank aims not only to fund farmers but deploys full-time agronomists to help with improving crop yields.”
Euromoney and Asiamoney are global English-language publications focused on business and finance.
Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO - HBL (Sitting on the left) and Aamir Ibrahim, CEO Jazz (Sitting on the Right) signing the agreement on behalf of two organizations.
Islamabad – 23 June 2021
Jazz has secured a PKR 50 billion syndicated credit facility from a banking consortium led by HBL. This 10-year facility will be used to finance the company’s ongoing 4G network rollouts and technology upgradation
This is the first of its kind facility extended to the Telecom sector in terms of the amount and tenor. The facility is fully subscribed by HBL, the consortium’s investment agent and mandated lead arranger. Other Banks who are also acting as the mandated lead arrangers and advisors on this deal include, United Bank Limited, National Bank of Pakistan, MCB Bank, Bank Alfalah, Allied Bank Limited, Askari Bank Limited, Bank of Punjab, Meezan Bank Limited and Faysal Bank Limited
As the country’s leading digital services provider, Jazz has over 69 million subscribers and more than 28 million 4G users nationwide. Over a period of two years, the company has invested USD 462 million on 4G infrastructure. The Pakistan Credit Rating Agency Limited (PACRA) has also recently upgraded Jazz’s long-term rating to ‘AA’ with a stable outlook, depicting the company’s strong financial depth in the industry.
HBL, Pakistan’s largest bank, was the first commercial bank to be established in Pakistan in 1947. Over the years, HBL has grown its branch network to over 1,650+ branches, 2,100+ ATMs and 54,000+ Konnect by HBL agents (branchless banking platform), serving over 23 million customers in 14 countries across the world.
“We continue to drive the digital Pakistan agenda by improving digital infrastructure, bridging the digital divide and focusing on financial inclusion. We are enabling societies by investing in entrepreneurship, digital skills and literacy. This facility is an integral step towards ensuring that people are not bound by the limitations of geography, gender, or socioeconomic background, in harnessing the power of the internet. A transaction of this size is a testament to the trust the financial community has on Jazz’s strong financial profile and its leadership position in the telecom industry,” said Gabor Kocsis, Chief Financial Officer, Jazz.
Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO - HBL commenting on the occasion stated, “We are delighted to have led this landmark transaction in the Telecom sector. HBL has a long-standing relationship with JAZZ spanning more than two decades. For the Bank, such transactions serve HBL’s strategic priority of supporting the promotion of digitalization across the country, while underscoring HBL’s commitment to stand by the robust and progressive Telecom sector of Pakistan.”
HBL enables its customers to pay for their Honda cars directly using HBL Mobile! The Bank is at the forefront of digitalizing financial services in Pakistan through its technology driven initiatives. Digital payments adoption, especially through mobile apps and wallets have been growing at a very fast pace across Pakistan.
Honda Atlas Cars Pakistan Limited aspires to expand the horizons to provide customer convenience through its numerous products, which can now be realized through digital payments directly from HBL Mobile.
“Purchasing a car is not just a matter of convenience in Pakistan, a household brand name such as Honda Atlas Cars Pakistan Limited enables consumers to lock in value, while servicing customer needs for years to come. Enabling car purchases through HBL Mobile without the need to visit the bank branch will thus prove to be a milestone for the customers looking to invest in their future with a new purchase” said Mr. Amir Nazir, General Manager- Sales & Marketing, Honda Atlas Cars Limited.
Commenting on this partnership, Aamir Irshad, Head Corporate, Commercial & Investment Banking - HBL, said: “Honda Atlas Cars Pakistan Limited has been dealing with HBL for a long time, and Honda is a premier brand in the market. HBL and Honda take great pride in facilitating customers with convenience, security and reliability by enabling them to use digital channels to make these payments. This is a first for Pakistan’s digital payments landscape, and we are proud to be partnering with Honda.”
Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO - HBL (sitting on the left) and Farrukh Khan, MD & CEO PSX (sitting on the right) signing the agreement on behalf of their organizations.
Karachi, April 22, 2021
A Gong Ceremony was held at Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) to welcome HBL on-board as a Market Maker for debt securities on PSX. An agreement was signed between PSX and HBL today at PSX Trading Hall whereby HBL becomes Market Maker for debt instruments listed on PSX. The agreement was signed between Mr. Farrukh H. Khan, MD & CEO, Pakistan Stock Exchange, and Mr. Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO- HBL. Also present at the ceremony were the Board of Directors of PSX and senior management of both the organizations.
On this occasion, Mr. Farrukh Khan, the MD & CEO of PSX, said, “This is a very important step in developing collaboration between the banking sector and capital markets. Development of debt markets is an important strategic objective of PSX and critical for the economic growth of Pakistan. Hence, it is a very positive development that the largest bank of Pakistan is coming onboard as designated Market Maker for debt securities listed on PSX. Habib Bank, which was also the first company to be listed on the Stock Exchange, is now going to act as market maker for corporate and government debt securities listed on PSX”. He further stated, “We are confident that Habib Bank as market maker will add to the depth and development of the debt capital market of Pakistan. I congratulate and welcome HBL in their new role as Market Maker”.
Mr. Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO - HBL, added, “Today’s signing ceremony marks the commencement of a market-making relationship between HBL and the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). This is a historic moment, and we are grateful for PSX’ continued trust in the Bank. The arrangement allows investors to buy and sell debt securities with HBL willing to act as a buyer and/or seller. This will not only increase the attraction for debt instruments as an investable asset and add greater liquidity to the Exchange but will also pave the way to enhance the outreach of the debt market. We look forward to building a strong relationship with the Pakistan Stock Exchange and continue to play our role in developing the economy of the country.”
Market Makers perform the crucial role of providing liquidity and depth to the market by facilitating investors to buy & sell securities through continuously quoting two-way prices, i.e., bid and offer prices.
Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO - HBL (Left) and Qasif Shahid, CEO and Co-Founder (seated on Right) signing the agreement between the two organizations. Umer Munawer, COO and Co-Founder and Monis Rahman, Chairman and Co-Founder (standing Left to Right) were also present at the occasion.
Karachi, May 27, 2021
HBL becomes the first bank in Pakistan to invest in a digital fintech startup with its Rs. 176 Million (USD 1.15 Million) participation in the last tranche of Finja’s Rs. 1.56 billion (USD10.15 Million) Series A1 round. HBL joins an impressive list of leading global fintech funds that have invested in Finja including BeeNext, Vostok Emerging Finance, Quona Capital, and ICU Ventures. All investors from previous rounds topped up their investment in Finja’s Series A1 round.
For HBL, an investment in Finja serves two of the bank’s strategic priorities, namely, making investments into Digital Financial Inclusion and Development Finance companies, especially ones making an impact in agriculture and SMEs as these are the backbone of the economy, and proactively reinventing HBL to become a “technology company with a banking license”.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in April last year, Finja has scaled its digital lending portfolio by 550% disbursing over 50,000 digital loans to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Despite being the backbone of the economy, small businesses in Pakistan have traditionally not been able to obtain credit to grow.
“We are elated to have HBL participate in this funding round. Our ground-breaking success in digitally scoring undocumented small businesses has resulted in a 64% month-on-month portfolio growth for us since the outbreak of the pandemic earlier this year. Undoubtedly, HBL’s financial clout, massive network and progressive leadership will help us elevate the country’s most important segment, the SMEs,” said Qasif Shahid, CEO and Co-Founder Finja.
“These loans are critical for Pakistan’s economic growth. Our productive loans result in a 40% increase in SME revenue with less than a 1% default rate,” added Monis Rahman, Chairman and Co-Founder Finja.
Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO – HBL, commenting on the occasion said, “We are delighted to be investing in FINJA. Pakistan’s fintech landscape has immense opportunities. At HBL we believe that by making this investment we are not only developing the Startup ecosystem, but it will also pave the way for Pakistan to play a bigger role in the fintech space globally. SME lending is the future and therefore we are investing in Finja which enjoys a first mover advantage over the market in digitally lending to SMEs in this country.”
HBL became the first Pakistani bank to open a branch and serve clients in Beijing, China’s capital city.
Karachi, 22 March 2021
The inauguration ceremony for HBL Beijing was attended by clients, regulators and senior executives of the Bank from across HBL’s international network. From Pakistan, Mr. Jameel Ahmad, Deputy Governor – State Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Sultan Ali Allana, Chairman - HBL, Mr. Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO – HBL, along with senior executives and HBL’s customers, virtually joined the ceremony. HBL Beijing offers a full range of products & services for the Bank’s esteemed clients.
HBL remains grateful to the Governments of Pakistan and China and the regulators for the trust and confidence they have reposed on the Bank, through the opening of the branch.
HBL has created history by being the first and only bank from Pakistan to have a branch in Beijing and one of the three banks from South Asia and MENA region to offer end-to-end RMB intermediation in China. Upon commencement of business, HBL Beijing has become HBL’s second branch and its managing branch in China; both branches in Beijing and Urumqi are equipped with foreign exchange and RMB license to better facilitate customers’ requirements in multiple currencies.
HBL’s presence in China will allow the bank to interact with State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and leading financial institutions involved in CPEC and across Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) corridors. China is a very important market for HBL not only in terms of the business in China and CPEC, but also for Chinese companies working on projects in countries across the HBL network.
Chairman HBL, Sultan Ali Allana said, “HBL’s journey in China began in 2005 when we established our Representative Office in Beijing. This was followed by the establishment of branch operations in Urumqi in 2017 and today we mark the commencement of our branch operations in Beijing. It is an extremely proud moment for us as we enhance our China franchise, and we look forward to playing a leading role in facilitating regional trade and serving our valued customers throughout HBL’s international network.”
Commenting on the branch opening, Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO, HBL said: “China is the second home market for HBL and we will grow our business in the country. China remains the lynchpin of HBL’s international strategy. We are grateful to the regulators for having granted us the branch license. They are very supportive of developing market-based capabilities and encouraging financial institutions like HBL to provide clients best-in-class product and services. HBL is the largest executor of CPEC related financing in Pakistan, and the Bank’s presence in China has put us in a unique position to connect our clients across the HBL network directly with the businesses in China.”