ICICI Bank opens first US branch

March 1st, 2008 - 7:21 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)
By Parveen Chopra
New York, March 1 (IANS) ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank, has opened its first branch in New York. It will manage salary accounts of US employees of large Indian companies like Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services. K.V. Kamath, managing director and chief executive officer, and Sonjoy Chatterjee, executive director of the bank, announced Friday that the US branch will start operating from Monday at midtown Manhattan here.

On the occasion, Kamath rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, where the bank is listed.

Under the licence granted by regulators here, the bank will initially provide services to corporate customers, but will get into general retail banking three months down the line.

“New York has the deepest pool of capital, and by operating here, we will grow our business,” Kamath said.

The bank will service the various opportunities arising out of India’s growth momentum and its burgeoning trade with the US, he added.

“Certain regulations in India to prevent money laundering had delayed our entry in the US,” he told IANS in reply to a question.

Chatterjee, responsible for corporate and international banking at ICICI, said the bank was authorised to serve the retail needs of Indians in the US on H1B work visas, numbering about 100,000 currently.

“We will, for example, manage salary accounts of US employees of large Indian companies like Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services.”

On plans to open more branches in the US, he said: “As business evolves, we will evaluate what needs to be done.”

But the initial focus, Chatterjee said, would be on corporate cross border opportunities. The New York branch will offer a suite of banking services including working capital, acquisition finance, trade service and treasury solutions to corporates.

ICICI Bank won approval last October from the US Federal Reserve to convert its representative office in New York to a full-fledged branch.

Mumbai-based ICICI Bank has consolidated total assets of about $115 billion (Rs.4,589.5 billion) as of Dec 31, 2007.

With over 950 branches in India, it is the country’s second largest bank after State Bank of India (SBI). SBI already has branches in New York, Chicago and through its subsidiary in California, set up in 1982, six branches in the state including one in Los Angeles.

ICICI, which opened a branch Thursday in Frankfurt, Germany, now has presence in 19 countries, including three wholly owned subsidiaries in Britain, Russia and Canada.

It also has an offshore banking unit in Singapore, an advisory branch in Dubai, branches in Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Belgium, Qatar, Germany and representative offices in China, UAE, Bangladesh, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.

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