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May 8, 2002 | 1415 IST
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StanChart Grindlays open to portfolio acquisitions

Debjoy Sengupta

Standard Chartered Grindlays Bank is open to the idea of taking over portfolios from other banks if it finds a right one, while the merger between Standard Chartered Bank and Grindlays Bank will be officially completed in August.

"We are always open to evaluating opportunities for buying portfolio, but it will have to be a satisfactory one," explained StanChart's regional head, consumer banking, Vishu Ramachandran.

The bank is also not averse to the idea of taking over assets from finance companies provided these are good ones with a sound base. "Car finance companies are also good takeover candidates," he added. StanChart has recently taken over assets of two finance companies.

Experts from the banking industry said new private sector banks, foreign banks and a few finance companies with clean asset base and portfolio could be a possible takeover option for banks like StanChart.

On the merger between Standard Chartered Bank and Grindlays Bank, Ramachandran said, "The majority of our systems has already been integrated with the exception of the deposit system which is scheduled to be in place in the next few months. The official merger will be completed in August".

India has emerged one of the most important location for StanChart's international business because the country accounts for 15 per cent of the global business and the bank has also taken up an ambitious expansion plan where it will increase its branches by 7 in the next few months and thereafter increase the number to 80 from 61.

"We have licenses for opening seven branches which we will shortly exercise. Our plans are to subsequently go for more licenses from the Reserve Bank of India.

"This will allow StanChart to be adequately represented in all towns and metros of importance and enhance its business in the next couple of years," the chief explained.

On the consumer banking front, Ramachandran hopes to achieve fifty per cent of its business through home finance by 2005. Home finance at present contributes 20 per cent to the business.

The banks is also planning to launch a couple of new products in the consumer banking segment.

"We intend to serve our customers' better and we are in the process of launching tailor made products for our customers," explained Ramachandran.

The consumer banking head has targeted a 25 per cent growth in its card business, a 100 per cent growth in mortgage business, 25 per cent growth in deposits and a 25 per cent growth in personal loan segment in the 2002.

"With changes happening very fast in India, the country is slated to increase its share in the global business in the next few years," Ramachandran added.

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