Indian bank plans foray into Qatar

India's fourth largest bank, Bank of Baroda, has 59 branches and offices outside India at present.

india Updated: Jun 15, 2006 11:34 IST

The Bank of Baroda (BoB), India's fourth largest bank, is planning to open a branch in Qatar, the Gulf Times reported.

BoB chairman and managing director Anil K Khandelwal met Qatar Central Bank (QCB) governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Thani and explored the possibility of opening a full-fledged branch in Doha, the daily said.

"We are quite optimistic of a presence in Qatar in the 2006-07 financial year. Nevertheless, I cannot say right now whether it will be a full-fledged branch or not," it quoted Khandelwal as saying.

Stating that BoB had six full-fledged branches in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and three in Oman, Khandelwal claimed that his bank knew the Gulf region "much better than any other Indian bank".

Referring to Qatar's booming economy, he said, "This is a place of real happening. It makes sense for us to be here now.

Major Indian companies, including ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd) Videsh, L&T and Essar are already here. And they are our customers as well."

He added that if there were delays in procuring a licence for a full-fledged branch, BoB would try for a tie up with a local bank or operate through the Qatar Financial Centre.

Regarding non-resident Indians (NRIs), he said the bank, which has 59 branches and offices outside India, had specialised divisions for NRIs.

"We are now getting into third party products such as mutual funds, stock broking and insurance products... We are also in tie up with international consultancy Mckinsey for strengthening our wealth management portfolio. Hewlett Packard is helping us to strengthen our IT platform," Khandelwal said.

He added that his bank would be able to serve NRIs better when its branches in the UAE and Oman get connected to its online network by July.

Earlier this month, there were reports about the Union Bank of India, India's fifth largest public sector bank, planning to tie up with a local bank in Qatar to start retail operations in that country.

As of now, UBI is awaiting approval from the QCB to open a branch in Doha, to cater mainly to corporate clients.

First Published: Jun 15, 2006 11:34 IST