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Nova Scotia on the prowl

New Delhi, Dec. 2: Bank of Nova Scotia today unveiled its plans for the Indian market. It is planning to take equity in Indian banks and also foray into the retail segment soon.

“We are looking at the options of picking up a stake in Indian banks. We want to increase our investments in India,” Richard E. Waugh, vice-chairman of the executive offices told The Telegraph. The bank will have a year-to-year growth of 15-20 per cent, he added.

Some of the private banks that are being considered for inclusion of foreign partners include Centurion Bank and IDBI. Waugh declined to comment on whether his bank is considering buying major chunk of equity in these banks.

Speaking about the timeframe for these plans to fructify, Waugh said: “In all probability in the next couple of years. We want to make sure we have the right product and services before we launch our operations.”

The bank has been operating in the country for the last 20 years but till now has only five branches — Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Coimbatore and Bangalore – and has an asset base of Rs 2,500 crore.

“We are exploring the option of opening up a subsidiary here. But we prefer to have an organic rate-of-growth,” Waugh said.

“Although our focus right now is in commercial corporate banking. In the long run we want to enter the retail banking segment.”

He said that the Indian banking regulations, which put a 49 per cent cap on foreign investment in banking, is a barrier to its expansion plans. “For us the management control is important and that is what we are looking for. We have to view the Indian banking regulations in detail,” Waugh said and added that this is one of the reasons why he is visiting the country currently.

Regarding the bank’s product portfolio for the retail segment, he said: “We will have an entire range of portfolio, including credit cards. Although nothing has been finalised as yet.”

The Canada-based bank till now offers only corporate banking services in India and in a limited manner retail banking facility. The bank’s worldwide operations is spread across 40 countries with assets around $ 125 billion (Canadian $ 200 billion).

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