Bank of Baroda increasing focus on non-Indians abroad

October 22nd, 2008 - 6:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Oct 22 (IANS) Bank of Baroda (BoB), the Indian public sector bank with the largest international presence, is now focusing on non-Indian customers even as it plans to open 10 overseas branches in 2008-09.The bank, which has 72 offices in 25 countries, is planning forays in even those parts of the world where the expatriate Indian population is not dominant.

“Following good business in places like Trinidad & Tobago, South Africa and Botswana, we are now focusing on local customers in other parts of the world beyond NRIs (non-resident Indians),” M.D. Mallya, chairman and managing director of BoB, told IANS here Wednesday.

At a function in Abu Dhabi Tuesday, he stated that BoB would open 10 overseas branches in the current fiscal.

“In Trinidad & Tobago, for example, though the expatriate Indian population there does not have much connection with India, we have achieved excellent results,” he said.

The bank had opened a branch in Port of Spain in October last year. Similarly, in Botswana too, where the bank had opened a local subsidiary in December last year, business has been good.

“We had opened our branch at Francistown right on the edge of a mineral rich region and we got very good results. Our African business has been good and we would like to capitalise on our existing operations in the African continent,” the banker said.

“In Botswana and South Africa, we are trying to focus on people who are not necessarily Indian.”

As for the Gulf, where the bank has major operations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Bahrain, the bank is planning further expansions.

“Our business growth has been phenomenal in the Gulf and we will be happy to extend our operations here. We have applied for licences to open new branches in Dubai, Fujeirah (both in UAE) and Oman,” said Mallya, who is currently touring the region on the bank’s centenary year.

As of now, the bank has six branches in the UAE, three in Oman.

In the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) in the UAE, where the bank had entered into an agreement with the RAK Investment Authority this year for financing units in the free economic zone there, the branch was doing well, the BoB managing director said.

Apart from focusing on non-Indian customers, the bank is also focusing on local people for staffing needs.

“We are recruiting a lot of local people in our foreign units. In Oman, the head of one of our branches is a local lady,” Mallya said.

“Even staff from India who are posted in our branches abroad should be familiar with local customs and traditions,” he added.

Coming to the global financial crisis sparked by the credit crunch in the West, he said the Indian banking sector was largely insulated and hence not affected much.

Asked how BoB was affected compared to other Indian banks given its large presence abroad: “Not at all. We are insulated and we had very little exposure to sub-prime mortgages.”

Instead, he said the bank stood to gain from the present crisis.

“In every adversity, there is an opportunity. Because of our large presence outside, people from outside, especially Indians, who want to invest in India would prefer to deal with the Bank of Baroda than others because of their familiarity with us,” he said.

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