Pakistani tycoon to march into Indian banking sector
Mian Mohammad Mansha, Pakistan’s richest man and chairman of the $5 billion Nishat Group, says he is keen to launch banking services in India.
According to an article published in The Economic Times, Mansha while talking to the newspaper said that the State Bank of Pakistan is examining a proposal from his MCB Bank to open at least three branches in Delhi, Mumbai and Amritsar.
MCB Bank is one of the largest private sector banks in Pakistan with over 1,130 branches and 4.5 million customers. The Nishat Group, which is Pakistan’s largest business conglomerate, has interests in banking, textiles, insurance, cement and power.
”We are very keen on opening branches in India and have applied to our central bank for clearances,” Mansha said. “As soon as the State Bank of Pakistan clears our application, it would refer it to the Reserve Bank of India for approval,” he added.
Mansha said he sees no difficulties in meeting the stiff eligibility norms for banks in India. “We are aware of the capital adequacy requirements and other eligibility criteria for Indian operations and won’t have any problems in complying with them,” he said.
MCB Bank is the first Pakistani lender to formally apply for an Indian banking permit after officials from the central banks of the two countries met this April to discuss modalities for cross-border banking operations. According to Mansha, two of Pakistan’s largest private commercial banks – the United Bank and the Habib Bank – are also considering forays into India.
Mansha, however, warned against the loss of intensity in revival of India-Pakistan ties.
Mansha said that the Nishat Group is setting up a cell to facilitate steady exchanges between the business houses of the two countries. The group has also hired Shahid Malik, Pakistan’s former high commissioner to India, to bolster bilateral commercial ties.
The first few months of 2012 saw an unusual spurt in bonhomie between India and Pakistan and allowing banks to launch operations across the border is part of a larger strategy to improve bilateral trade ties by making transactions easier for exporters.
Mansha is learnt to have met senior Indian officials in April this year to apprise them of his intent. MCB Bank, which in the past has had informal discussions on information technology systems with the ICICI Bank, has a major presence in Sri Lanka and an indirect presence in the UAE, Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Hong Kong.
Apart from a banking foray, Mansha is also keen on setting up single-brand retail outlets in India for his wife’s textile business – Nishat Linen.