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Oldest bank opens office in Mumbai

Monte dei Paschi di Siena will soon open another representative office in New Delhi.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 11:39 IST

World's oldest bank and amongst top five in Italy, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) has stepped into India by opening a representative office in Mumbai.

The bank would maintain a prudent approach in expanding its reach and presence in India, bank's Head International Affairs Primo Brioni said adding that the bank intended to advance 'step by step but steadily'.

"In the first phase we will open another representative office in New Delhi. Then in the second phase, which is few months' away from now, we will report to our borad of directors with the inputs of the Indian market and getting a nod from them we will start retail and corporate banking in India, replicating our operations in China," Brioni said.

Asked whether the opening up of the representative office was a step towards acquiring a bank in India, he said, "The bank's corporate strategy does not prevent acquiring stakes abroad if it promises opportunity. However, if we decide to go for acquiring stakes, we don't buy minority stake. It's always the majority stake".

The year 2009 'attracts us very much', Brioni said making the bank's intention clearer.

Reserve Bank of India will review its banking policy in 2009 and is expected to take a call on whether foreign banks can grab more than five per cent stake in a bank.

But, he was tight-lipped when asked what could be the size of investment for acquisition.

Meanwhile, in the initial period, the Italian bank would act the felicitator's role to the Italian SME sector in order to encourage them to penetrate in the overseas markets and assist them with their foreign investments.

"We aim to support and encourage our clients in the SME sector for any kind of their initiative," Brioni said. He added close to 15,000 players in the SME sector belonging to the manufacturing, fashion, hi-tech machineary, chemicals and agro-processing sectors.

The bank has 4.5 million customers including 350,000 SME clients.

MPS recorded a 45 per cent hike in its net income in the year 2005 compared to a year-ago period. Net profit of the bank also jacked up to euro 790 million registering an increase of 43 per cent.

Italian investment, in the form of FDI, pegged at $3.7 million in the first three quarter of the last fiscal.