Qatar’s Doha Bank eyes India for expansion

Gulf state's fifth biggest lender has applied for a licence to operate in Subcontinent
Qatar’s Doha Bank eyes India for expansion
The lender previously applied for a licence to operate in India in 2005.
By Shane McGinley
Mon 11 Jun 2012 10:28 AM

Doha Bank, Qatar’s fifth biggest lender by market value, has applied for a licence to operate in India and is hoping to set up operations soon, the bank’s CEO said in an interview.

“We have applied to the Reserve Bank of India for a licence and we expect to bag one soon to start our Indian operations," R Seetharaman, CEO of the Doha Bank Group told The Times of India newspaper.

The lender previously applied for a licence to operate in India in 2005 but this was rejected by Indian authorities as Qatar did not allow Indian banks to set up in Doha.

The setting up a base in Doha by the State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender, has eased banking relations between the two countries and opened the door for Qatari lenders to set up in India.

"We are quite optimistic now and Doha Bank would focus on corporate banking (for large customers as well as small and medium enterprises), treasury, syndication and trade finance in India. On the retail banking front, our focus would be on e-commerce," Seetharaman said.

The Qatari lender already has business links to India and Seetharaman stated its annual remittance business to India was INR15,000 crore (US$2.7bn) and bank had US$2bn worth of exposure to Indian corporates.

Doha Bank, which saw first quarter profit rise 7.4 percent to QAR390m (US$107m) this year, has been mulling a number of new overseas countries and it looks to expand outside its home market.

“It could be in Turkey, it could be emerging markets, we are looking at other options,” Seetharaman said in an interview with Bloomberg in November 2011. “We are going to grow, and it’s a goal in line with the overall financial stability of Qatar.

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