RBI to let ANZ branch out with two more offices

Written by Arun S | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 15 2014, 17:48pm hrs
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) will get RBIs nod for two more branches in India while South Korean banks, including Shinhan Bank, Woori Bank and the Industrial Bank of Korea, as well as the Netherlands-based ABN Amro Bank will have to wait longer for a regulatory approval for their plans to expand operations in the country.

An inter-departmental committee, comprising representatives from the ministries of finance, external affairs, home and commerce, on Friday endorsed RBIs proposal to allow ANZ to open two more branches, official sources told FE. ANZ has only one branch in India, which is in Mumbai.

The panel has, however, deferred the proposal of ABN Amro Bank to open a branch in India on technical grounds, the sources said. It also deferred the proposals of the South Korean banks, which have been pending since last year, as more discussions are planned with that country on Indias proposal that Seoul should first follow the principle of reciprocity by allowing Indian banks such as State Bank of India to open branches in South Korea, the sources said.

Currently, only one Indian bank (Indian Overseas Bank) has a branch in South Korea. SBI has a representative office in that country and is seeking to open a branch there.

From the Korean side, Shinhan Bank has three branches in India and Woori Bank has one, while Hana Bank, Korea Exchange Bank, Kookmin Bank and Industrial Bank of Korea have representative offices in India. Shinhan Bank now wants to open three more branches, while Woori bank and Industrial Bank of Korea are seeking permission to start one more branch each, official sources said.

In 2010, around 10 years after ANZ sold its India operations to UK-based Standard Chartered, the RBI had again allowed it to open a branch.

ANZ got the inter-departmental committee nod as Australia was willing to allow interested Indian banks to expand operations there on a reciprocal basis, the sources said.

They added that ANZ has also offered to set up a wholly owned subsidiary (WOS) in India as Australia had also introduced a WOS model for foreign banks, a move that helped in getting the panels nod. There are four Australian banks in India with a branch each, while SBI and Bank of Baroda have a branch each in Australia, and Punjab National Bank and Union Bank of India have a representative office there.

The Netherlands government-owned ABN Amro Bank had sold its India business to Royal Bank of Scotland in a global deal in 2007 and since 2011, it has been trying to re-enter India, the sources said, adding that one of its main interest areas is to finance diamond trade.