Seven foreign banks get nod to open branches

BNP Paribas, Societe Generale and Standard Chartered are among the seven foreign banks which have been given approval to open new branches in the country in 2012 till mid-August, the government said on Wednesday.

The other four which were also given approval are -- Morgan Stanley Bank International, Westpac Banking Corporation, Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait and State Bank of Mauritius. In 2011, as many as 10 foreign banks were given permission to open branches in India, while the number stood at six in the year before that.

Providing this information in the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said under the WTO, India is committed to allow foreign banks to open 12 branches in a year. “RBI may, however, go beyond the WTO commitments of 12 branch licenses, if the foreign banks open offices in unbanked under-banked areas,” he added. Standard Chartered Bank and State Bank of Mauritius have been given approval to open branches in under-banked areas. Morgan Stanley, Westpac Banking Corporation and BNP Paribas received permissions for opening branches in Mumbai. The approval to Societe Generale and Bank of Bahrain and Kuwati is to open branches at Sanand and Aluva, respectively.

SBI, BoI branches in Pak

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan have agreed to allow two banks each from both the countries to set up branches across the border, Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, Yaseen Anwar said. “We have held discussions with the Reserve Bank of India and both sides have agreed to issue a full banking licence to two banks of each country,” Anwar told PTI on the sidelines of a conference organised by Institute of South Asian Studies.

The two Indian banks that will be allowed to operate in Pakistan are State Bank of India (SBI) and Bank of India (BoI). On the other hand, quasi-state owned National Bank of Pakistan and privately-owned United Bank Ltd will be running full-banking operations across the border, once licensed by India. “It will take few months to approve Indian banks’ licences on receiving them,” he said, adding “we are ready to go tomorrow to India” to set up banking operations.

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