SBI Ramps Up Overseas Ops

Kolkata, Aug 24 | Updated: Aug 25 2004, 05:50am hrs
The State Bank of India (SBI), the countrys largest commercial bank, is entering the retail lending business abroad as part of an overseas expansion aimed at making it a strong global institution, according to its chairman, AK Purwar.

Until now, the business at SBIs overseas offices consisted mainly of India -related work and NRI businesses...We cater to the needs of the Indian population residing abroad, NRI deposits as well as Indias foreign trade requirements, Mr Purwar said in an exclusive interview with FE.

We have already started retail financing operations in some of the foreign countries where we have a presence. For example, in Canada, we have started giving housing loans, while in Los Angeles, we have entered the retail banking segment through financing self-employed professionals like doctors, among others, Mr Purwar said.

The SBI chairman said the bank aims to increase its global presence substantially within the next couple of years. Right now, we have 54 foreign offices located in 28 countries. Shortly we will have 75 offices in 36 countries, he said. SBI will also open three representative offices in Angola, Istanbul and Myanmar.

We are mainly focussing on growth in West Asia and Africa as the destinations for our overseas expansion plans, Mr Purwar added. He said SBI is also looking at acquisitions in a number of foreign countries. We are looking for acquisition of banks operating in various areas which are in line with our overseas expansion plans, he said.

However, he refused to disclose any details. At present, SBIs foreign operations fetch a very small percentage of the banks total revenues.

In the year to March 31, 2004, out of total revenues of Rs 37,912 crore, foreign operations fetched Rs 1,051 crore, or two per cent. Now, SBI wants its overseas operations to account for at least 15 per cent of the banks total revenues within the next three years.

Given our rapid pace of progress during the last couple of years coupled with the growth strategy that we have chalked out for the next few years, I am confident that SBI will rank amongst the top 50 international banks in the next three years, Mr Purwar said.