Central Bank of India eyes UAE in expansion drive
DUBAI: The Central Bank of India (CBI), a leading public sector bank, may soon be joining the swelling rank of Indian financial institutions that have already set up presence in the UAE to tap the business opportunities in a region boasting a large concentration of non-resident Indians.
The bank, which is marking its centenary celebrations in 2011, has started exploring possibilities of setting up a representative office in the Emirates, and is even pondering the opening of a branch at Dubai International Financial Centre, an offshore financial district.
The Gulf foray is part of the bank's overseas expansion plan that will see "the sleeping giant" embarking on an aggressive growth swing after "a period of stagnation," Central Bank of India's Executive Director Rajeev Kishor Dubey told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of an investment seminar in Dubai. The overseas expansion would see the bank - the third largest public sector bank in India in terms of branch network - expanding its reach to Hong Kong, Bhutan, Nigeria, Tanzania and Mozambique.
"The Gulf offers immense potential as there is big demand for our services from the NRI population. The region is also a good market for remittance," said Dubey. He said the bank's long overdue overseas expansion is to get more international business while extending its banking facilities to the Indians settled abroad.
The centenary year will see the bank rejuvenating its workforce, process and products, while refurbishing branches across India, which is estimated to grow from 3,600 to 4,000 in six months.
Dubey admitted that the bank has been dormant for the past 15 years. "We have now adopted a new business model to drive our growth further in the coming decade," he said.
Already, Central Bank of India has doubled its profit in fiscal 2009-10 to Rs10 billion, its "best ever year on all parameters." "This year, we will see profit growing to Rs15 billion, up 50 per cent."
The bank will achieve 100 per cent CBS (core banking solution) coverage by December 21 next year coinciding with the birthday of Sorabji Pochkhanwala, who founded India's first swadeshi bank on the same day in 1911, Dubey said.
Also on the bank's agenda, are plans to include wealth management and asset management services, installing 500 on-site ATMs as well as a thrust on financial inclusion, he said.
Dubey said the bank would provide banking services to 3,000 villages in the country having less than 2,000 population by 2012 as a part of government's directives on implementing Financial Inclusion programme using mobile telephone technology. By March, 1,975 villages will be covered under this initiative. The bank will develop a software in local languages so that it becomes easier for people to get banking facilities, he said. He said the bank is on course to achieve a target of Rs3 trillion in business turnover by the end of this fiscal year, as compared to Rs2.46 trillion it achieved last fiscal. Another initiative by the bank is to increase its business per employee to Rs80 million from less Rs55 million per employee last year. Dubey said he is confident of reducing nonperforming assets and recover a total of Rs6 billion from NPA accounts before March 31, 2011. The bank has also launched cross-country remittance facility named 'Cent fast2 India' in collaboration with Bank of New York Mellon for NRIs in US. - PB News