State Bank of India to open office in Doha

January 4, 2011

The State Bank of India (SBI), the largest Indian bank ranked the 8th biggest in Asia, will open an office in Doha in the first quarter of 2011.

“The talks and procedures for setting up of a wholesale banking unit in Doha are in the final stages,” a senior SBI official told Qatar Tribune.

“The new office should start functioning by March 2011,” said Satyajit Pratap, chief executive officer-designate for the SBI branch SBI, a Fortune 500 bank by asset, had sought the authorisation from the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) to open a branch office in Qatar in May 2010.

The opening of a business office in Doha was an important part of the SBI’s aggressive global expansion programme, Pratap said.

Given the growing opportunities in Qatar and the region, the SBI was  planning to enhance its presence and business profile in the country and the Gulf region in a big way, he said.

About the opportunities in Qatar, Pratap said the SBI saw great potentials in the country and the region, and expressed confidence that by the end of the first year of operations, the Doha branch will start registering profit.

Refusing to reveal or quantify the size of the business the bank is eyeing in Qatar and the Gulf region, the SBI official said at present the GCC operations accounted for around a quarter of the bank’s huge NRI deposit base, the daily reported on Monday.

The SBI, ranked 62nd in the world, is aiming to enhance the share of overseas businesses in the bank’s total balance sheet size to over 25 per cent from the present 10-12 per cent.

Pratap said the Doha office would not only focus on enhancing its India-related business, but also take care of global needs of the bank’s existing as well as prospective customers.

It would contribute substantially to the bank’s global balance sheet size, he said.

Though the QFCRA authorisation technically includes all banking services,the SBI would start with providing wholesale banking solutions, he said.

The services would include collecting large commercial deposits and making big loans to high net worth corporates and individuals, offering bank guarantees, counter-guarantees, Lines of Credit among others.

The bank also plans to offer investment and retail banking services to tap into the presence of a large number of Indian and Asian business entities and expatriates in Qatar.

“But these are part of a long-term plan,” he said.

The SBI, which has 152 overseas branches, aims at increasing the number of foreign offices to over 1,000 in the next couple of years.

The bank has set up an overseas banking unit at its headquarters in Mumbai to assess and explore the potential and possibilities and increase the bank’s footprint across the globe.

Of these proposed overseas offices, the bank is aiming to set up around 30 in 2011.

A branch office in Jeddah is likely to be opened soon.

All procedures and formalities for the launch of the branch including procurement of licence have been completed. Currently, the SBI has two branches and a regional head office in Manama, one branch each in Dubai, Muscat and Tel Aviv; and representative offices in Tehran and Cairo.

The balance sheet size of the SBI, which figures at the 150th spot in the Forbes 2000 List of the largest global business entities, is estimated at over $100 billion (Dh368 billion) and it recorded over $1 billion profits in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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