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FirstRand Bank eyes break-even by next fiscal-end

"We are hopeful that our commercial (corporate) banking arm will break even by the end of the next fiscal. The balance sheet of our India franchise stood at USD 200 million as of 2012 with an asset base of USD 52 million," FirstRand Bank India chief executive for retail & commercial banking Bouphendra Madhav said.

Mumbai: FirstRand Bank India, the domestic franchise of South Africa's second largest financial services group, is hopeful of reaching the break-even point in its commercial banking services in India by next fiscal.

"We are hopeful that our commercial (corporate) banking arm will break even by the end of the next fiscal. The balance sheet of our India franchise stood at USD 200 million as of 2012 with an asset base of USD 52 million," FirstRand Bank India chief executive for retail & commercial banking Bouphendra Madhav said.

The bank hopes to close the balance sheet next fiscal at USD 270 million, he added.

FirstRand Bank India, which had opened its branch in the country in 2009, is the only South African bank in India and currently offers commercial and retail banking, apart offering services in the area of fixed income, currency and commodity trading, international and investment banking services.

The South African bank also runs a no-frills account division at its retail banking branch here and has so far opened 11,000 tiny accounts since it began operations last April in the megapolis as part of its own financial inclusion drive, he said.

The bank could secure only one branch licence so far and opened its first retail branch last April in the city. Its retail banking has just about 200 high net-worth clients and its deposit base is only around USD 15 million, he said.

Madhav also said the bank is not keen on entering the credit market at its retail banking division anytime soon. "Probably we will start secured personal loan services by next fiscal, which begins in June. But we have no plans to launch credit cards of unsecured lending soon."

On capital infusion by the parent company, Madhav said currently the branch is well capitalised and there won't be any dearth of funds going forward. The franchise has around 100 employees now, mostly at the non-retail baking divisions.

"Our parent has already invested USD 75 million into this franchise and is willing to pump more when needed. But there is no physical expansion plan as of now due to the lack of regulatory clarity," he said.

PTI