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SBI to go slow on global expansion

business Updated: May 10, 2009 22:27 IST
Jaidev Majumdar
Jaidev Majumdar
Hindustan Times
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The State Bank of India is planning to go slow on its international forays during the current fiscal.

SBI, which currently has operations in 33 countries, wants to ensure there is enough viability in the new businesses and come out with tailor-made products only for the NRIs during the fiscal.

During 2008-09, overseas operations accounted for 10 per cent to the bank’s balance sheet. Despite the broad plan that overseas operations will be important for the bank in the longer term, SBI Chairman OP Bhatt felt that with a squeezed solvency in the international market, the bank would not opt for a huge branch network expansion overseas in the current year.

“We will focus more on local retail markets like Canada, UK, Singapore, Malaysia and California in the US wherever there is a significant Indian diaspora. We will also continue to follow India Inc and keep an eye on where they are expanding,” Bhatt said. SBI is planning to employ staff for these regions and open offices soon.

He added that the bank would also be on the lookout for acquiring small banks in different geographies. “We are making specific products for the NRIs now,” Bhatt said.

During 2008-09, SBI reported a significant credit growth in international loans despite the global meltdown. The bank’s loan book rose by almost 18 per cent to $17.1 billion, from $14.5 billion in the previous year.

SBI is currently putting in place a business group for coordination of international operations, which will also take care of issues like compliance, human resource management, liability and risk management.