Bank of Baroda brings Indian flavour to New Zealand

It was in fact BOB day, beginning in the morning with a formal ceremony held in the presence of India’s Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena, BOB Chairman & Managing Director Mangalore Devadas Mallya, General Manager International Operations Vivek Hari Thatte, BOB NZ Managing Director Satish Vermani, local Directors Dr Rajen Prasad, Vijaya Vaidyanath and 200 other guests.

The inaugural ceremony, held at the Bank’s impressive new offices at 114 Dominion Road in Mt Eden set the pace for the course of the Bank in this country.

“Pubic response since our ‘soft-opening’ in June 2010 has been enthusiastic and encouraging, giving us the confidence to look forward to a bright future. As we understand the local market conditions and the needs of our customers, we should be able to provide tailor-made products and services to the banking pubic in New Zealand,” Mr Mallya said at the inaugural ceremony, a media conference that followed and at a business lunch held at Stamford Plaza Hotel.

India’s International Bank

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony and at the launch dinner held at Langham Hotel, which was attended by about 400 businesses, Mr Meena said

Indian banks demonstrated their strength and stamina during the recent global financial crisis.

“Not a single Indian bank, whether owned by the Government or the private sector, came to grief. In fact, each of them weathered the financial storm well, proving the quality of the regulatory mechanism enforced by the Reserve Bank of India. Bank of Baroda, with its extensive global network of offices and branches, is truly India’s International Bank,” he said.

Mr Mallya said the Indian banks in general and BOB in particular, registered better performance during the “difficult years of 2008, 2009 and 2010” against the face of banking failures across the world.

Bank of Quality

Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) Deputy Governor and Head of Financial Stability Grant Spencer endorsed that statement during his speech at the launch dinner.

“RBNZ follows rigid criteria for evaluating foreign banks and granting them a banking licence to operate in New Zealand. We were happy with the quality of assets, the systems and procedures and the performance of BOB through the years. We are sure that it will grow in New Zealand,” he said.

One of the greatest attributes of BOB is its caution towards market exposure. While the Bank has shown dynamism in developing new products and services and by having in place state-of-art technology, the good old ‘banker’s gut feeling’ is prominent. As Mr Mallya mentioned at the media briefing, the Bank has been continuously, year after year, providing less for ‘bad and unrecoverable debts,’ indicating sound business practices followed throughout its network.

“Our Non-Performing Assets constitute less than 0.1% of the total assets. This has been because of our monitoring system, which allows us to discuss with customers and take proactive measures to ensure their success. The Bank’s asset quality has been impeccable,” he said.

Mr Mallya said BOB has declared dividends every year since operations began 102 years, which is perhaps yet another record in the world’s banking industry.

“Our Capital Adequacy Ratio, at 12.45% (as at the end of December 2010) is above the industry’s average (9% for existing banks), which gives us additional comfort and leverage. Judicious employment of assets, careful policy of extension of credit and products that cater to a large segment of people have helped the Bank grow from strength to strength,” he said.

Branches in New Zealand

Mr Mallya said branch expansion was another aspect of the growth strategy.

“The success of our first branch in Auckland has given us the confidence and encouragement to expand our network in New Zealand. We hope to open a second branch in South Auckland, followed by other centres. It is important to understand the needs of our customers and plan accordingly,” he said.

However, expansion plans in India will continue to be aggressive. Mr Mallya said BOB will add 250 branches to its domestic network in India this year, taking the total to more than 3500 in the country. The Bank plans to open 500 new branches in 2012 to enhance the network to 4000 branches.

“Our overseas network is also poised for expansion from the existing 84 branches and offices to 100 by the end of next year.

“We have opened our branch at Ilford (a large suburban town in the Northeast of London), our seventh in London and tenth in the UK. We propose to convert our Representative office in Sydney to full-fledged commercial bank, the first BOB branch in Australia. Our expansion plans include overseas offices in Canada, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Surinam, in addition to expanding the network in Botswana, China, Kenya, Mauritius, Oman, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates,” Mr Mallya said.

Pictures:

2. BOB NZ Directors Vijaya Vaidyanath and Dr Rajen Prasad light the traditional lamp, watched by Mr Meena, Mr Mallya and others

3. MD Mallya, Chairman & Managing Director, Bank of Baroda, speaking at the inaugural ceremony on February 4.

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