Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SocGen looks to India for growth

S Kalyana Ramanathan / London September 22, 2009

After having a minor presence in India for more than three decades, French banking group Societe Generale (SocGen) is now counting on India along with China to offer major growth opportunities in the next three to five years.

SocGen’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer Severin Cabannes said that group was gradually focusing its presence in India, China and Brazil. He said though the group would not be expanding simultaneously in all three countries, it would increase its investments in these markets based on local responses over the next three to five years. “We are learning from these countries...for our expansion over the next three to five years,” he said.

The French group’s private banking arm’s senior executives said that it had secured a non-banking finance company (NBFC) licence from the Reserve Bank of India and would start lending money to local customers. The group has also applied for a licence to offer portfolio management services here.

At a media briefing in London hosted by senior management, SG Private Banking’s global CEO Daniel Truchi said the initial plans would be to expand its geographic presence in India by adding Pune to its existing locations at Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Through its offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and the United Kingdom, the private banking arm proposed to offer services to non-resident Indians who wished to invest in India, said Truchi.

SocGen also has a joint venture agreement with Indiabulls for undertaking life insurance business here. Cabannes said that it was awaiting a licence for this new business for over a year now. In 2004, Societe Generale Asset Management entered into a partnership with State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank, taking a 37 per cent stake in SBI Funds Management, its asset management subsidiary. SBI Funds Management is one of the top players in the fast growing asset management market. SocGen, is a minority shareholder (around 37 per cent) in a company that will provide custody and fund administration services from the end of 2009.

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