South-based private sector lender Federal Bank has received the regulatory nod to open offices in Bahrain, Kuwait and Singapore, but is awaiting local clearances before it starts operations, a top official has said.
The Kochi-headquartered bank, which leads diaspora remittances, already has representative offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and its desire to expand comes even as a majority of its larger peers are downsizing their overseas presence following the Rs 13,500-crore Nirav Modi scam and poor asset quality back home due to toxic loans.
“We have received the Reserve Bank nod for having representative offices in Bahrain, Kuwait and Singapore and are now awaiting clearances from local regulators in the host countries,” chief executive officer and managing director Shyam Srinivasan told PTI over phone.
He, however, did not give a timeline by when the bank expects the approvals from local regulators will come in, saying it depends on a lot of factors.
It can be noted that following the over Rs 13,500-crore Nirav Modi scam at state-run Punjab National Bank, almost all the nationalised banks which account for the bulk of overseas presence by domestic lenders, have been reducing their overseas presence as part of a government directive.
However, the private sector ones have been continuing with their overseas expansion plans, with the likes of Axis Bank and Yes Bank having done so in recent months.
Domestically, Federal Bank does not have any plans to increase its presence and will concentrate on the digital alternatives to help reach out to more customers, he said.
Srinivasan said the bank, which reported a massive 25 per cent spike in net income in the June quarter, has not opened new branches in the last four years, since when it has been focusing on the technology-led interventions.
It has relocated branches within a specific area to make them more profitable or realign the staff as the banking landscape changes to a relationship management-led model, he said.
The bank will be focusing more on the unsecured lending segment, where its book stands at Rs 380 crore at present, he said.
Having constituted a dedicated team for the unsecured play, the bank is targeting to at least double the loan book on the low base, Srinivasan said, adding the potential to grow in the segment is tremendous.
At a theoretical level, the bank has the scope to grow its unsecured book to Rs 10,000 crore given its overall loan book size of over Rs 95,500 crore.