SBI upbeat on foreign expansion; to scale up Singapore Ops

This would help the Indian banking behemoth to move a step closer to consolidate its position in the global financial services industry.

SBI is in advanced stages of setting up offices in the Middle East, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, the UK and Hong Kong, and would mainly focus on corporate banking and project financing in these locations, the official told said.

"We have plans to move to all geographies across the globe, where Indian coporates have operations. The bank would act as a facilitator in all areas for these entities to grow their business," the official said.

In Singapore, where it currently have six branches and five ATMs, SBI would increase its presence to at least 16 locations by June, the official said.

In Saudi Arabia, SBI has already secured approval for setting up its first branch at Jeddah, which is likely to be operational by the fiscal-end.

State Bank, which has a balance sheet size of Rs 9.77 lakh crore as at end-June 2009, is also actively looking at expanding operations in South Africa.

"This (South Africa) is a market, where we are actively looking at expanding the operations by setting up offices in a number of locations," the official said. Presently, SBI has three offices in South Africa.

As of now, the banking major has presence in 132 overseas centers that includes 64 branches under five subsidiaries.

These subsidiaries are Indonesia (6 branches), Mauritius (12 branches), Nepal (32 branches), California (7 branches)and Canada (7 branches).

The bank's Dubai branch had received category I license in end-2008, allowing it to undertake all banking operations except retail banking activities.

In the period ahead, the lender is also open to acquiring smaller banks in overseas markets and is constantly evaluating the options, the official said.

Overseas business currently contribute around 12 per cent of SBI's balancesheet. 

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