South Indian Bank to open 250 branches, looking at acquistions

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New Delhi, Mar 29 (UNI) The Kerala-based South Indian Bank today announced an aggressive expansion strategy, including opening up of 250 new branches in the next five years, 150 of these being in the North, and plans for acquiring a small bank.

"The Bank has prepared a startegic business plan to touch Rs 75,000 crore mark-comprising Rs 44,000 crore in deposits and Rs 31,000 crore in advances", Chairman and CEO of the South Indian Bank V A Joseph told a news conference here.

Dr Joseph said the new branches will be addition to existing 500 branches and 26 Extension Counters in 23 States and Union Territories.

Dr Joseph said the Board of the Bank has given approval for acquiring a small bank to suit its expansionary needs. However, little has materialised on the ground though various options are being explored.

He said the South Indian Bank will acquire a bank when the opportunity arises.

Dr Joseph said the South Indian Bank was 100 per cent technology driven and the take-over has to ensure that the exercise is cost-effective.

Talking about plans relating to branch expansion, Dr Joseph said 100 of the new branches would be in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

The other 150 brahces will be spread from Maharashatra to Jammu and Kashmir, he said.

Dr Joseph said the thrust of the branch expansion startegy would entail opening more branches in the North. It is already well entrenched in South India.

He said recently the Bank opened three branches in Punjab, namely Jallandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar.

Recently, also a branch was established in Guwahati in Assam as also another in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.

Dr Joseph admitted that the Bank did not have many branches in North East and none in Himachal Pradesh.

Asked whether cultural factors would come in the way of setting up more branches in North, Dr Joseph said the local populace wanted that the name of the Bank be not changed.

"Being a professionally run Bank, there should not be a problem in setting up branches in North India," Dr Joseph said.

The 79-year Bank which has its headquarters in Trichur opened its 500 Core Banking Solution(CBS) branch in New Delhi. Located at Vivek Vihar, the branch was inaugurated by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

On the occassion, Mrs Dikshit distributed 500 micro credit housing loans to the weaker sections of society. The loans carry an interest rate of eight per cent.

Dr Joseph said the Bank had started its operations in Delhi 35 years ago when its first branch was started in Karol Bagh in the year 1973. The Bank at present has 20 branches in the capital and National Capital Region.

The Chairman said the Bank has already crossed Rs 150 crore mark as NPA recovery, though the target for the fiscal was only Rs 130 crores.

Regarding implmentation of Bassel 11 norms, Dr Joseph said South Indian Bank has a Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of 14,92 per cent, which was way above the statutory norm.

In the field of financial inclusion, Dr Joseph said the Bank has already taken an initiative to launch a scheme 'Money lender free village.' The experiment in this regard has been launched in Trichur district and the Bank has been successful in replacing the exploitiative rural credit mechanism with that of institutional credit, he said.

UNI GS MP AS1726

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