'Our network in asia gives us an edge'

Written by Shobhana Subramanian | Updated: Mar 30 2011, 07:52am hrs
Encouraged with the significant opportunity India presents, DBS Bank is happy to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary in the country, says Sanjiv Bhasin, GM & CEO DBS Bank India. India is the third largest contributor to the DBS groups revenues and Bhasin tells Anita Bhoir and Shobhana Subramanian that he wants to consolidate Indias position and increase its share of profits to around 15% from the current 10%.

How do you compete with the large full- service foreign banks in the country

Over the past few years, DBS has built a network of branches that has grown from two to 12 and this has helped us build a customer franchise. In the past two years the bank has been focusing on wholesale banking with great emphasis on acquiring customers.

We are here for the long term with good representation in Asia.

Our network across Asia helps us capture trade and capital flows and also other transaction-based businesses. The Indian market is big and with GDP growing we have carved out a place for ourself. We intend to grow our balance sheet from Rs16,000 crore at the end of March 2010 to Rs25,000 crore by March 2011.

How do you achieve the planned growth in the balance sheet

Until the beginning of last year our focus was largely on the corporate banking business and we have now forayed into consumer banking. Our retail banking strategy is largely centred around growing the current and savings account base and the wealth management piece. We have recently rolled out debit cards. On the retail banking side, we intend to target the emerging affluent segment.

We have no plans or the desire to launch retail assets business in the next two to three years. In the next five years we would want our retail liability base to be around 25%. Currently, it comprises predominantly wholesale deposits.

Given the limited network, wouldnt the lack of a retail asset business hamper the growth of the liability franchise

It is a challenge, given the limited branch network. However, our research has also found out that individuals do have multiple accounts and look for different products from various banks. Moreover, the markets are underpenetrated.

We have launched our retail offering across 12 branches and we have received positive success in terms of number of customers, deposit accounts and also foray into wealth management products. At the end of March 2010, the bank had a deposit base of Rs 8,312 crore and loan book of Rs 4,051 crore.

How would you approach the SME piece, given the competition

Small and medium enterprises are also expanding and so there is a growth option for us. Capitalising on our Asian network we would continue to play a role in inter- Asia trade finance.

What is Indias share in the global profits and whats the outlook

India contributes about 10% to the global profits making it the third largest contributor after Hong Kong and Singapore. We would like to consolidate our position at number three and hope to increase our share to 15%.

What are your thoughts on the RBI paper on foreign bank subsidiarisation

There needs to be more clarity on national treatment and whether dilution would be compulsory. However, these would not act as roadblocks.

Would you consider converting to a wholly-owned subsidiary in India

We are keen to operate as a subsidiary in the country. We operate as a wholly- owned subsidiary in other markets such as China, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Thats our model and it would help us become a universal bank.

Do you plan to list the bank in the country, perhaps through an IDR

We have adequate capital and dont feel the need to list the bank. We have raised funds through subordinate debt issuances and, like other banks, have also retained our profits.