What new initiatives is Bank of Baroda undertaking in the GCC?
MOORTHY: We are in the process of expanding our activity in GCC. We are actually considering a DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) branch maybe in a couple months’ time as well as in Oman. We have one branch we need to establish in Sohar, which is an upcoming town in Oman. Apart from that we have some plans for opening EBSUs at DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre), Dubai. As of now, we have a customer base of 250,000 customers, and we would like make it 350,000 customers by next year.
What were the highlights of your 2011 financial results?
MOORTHY: We are definitely a bank which is credible compared to the rest. We have grown by 35% in terms of customer deposits and our advances asset we have grown by 25%. I think this showcases that we are the only bank in this part of the country where CAGR has been more than 27% for our last five years.
How would you describe the current state of the banking sector here in the UAE?
MOORTHY: The banking sector is positive. However, for the real estate sector, I would use caution. I think even a majority of the banks would not be interested in taking some large exposures. With other sectors, everybody is positive in some sectors like hospitality, healthcare, and education. There are emerging opportunities that will create a big advancement for bankers. As far as we are concerned, I think we are there for manufacturing, education, and healthcare sector. Trading has been our forte, and we continue to build on that.
What is the state of project finance?
MOORTHY: We need to expect a minimum contribution of around 10% to 25% from the stakeholders so as to sustain interest. Other than that we are there to take care of their requirements. We have a full syndication team working with us. I think we should be able to coordinate with other bankers. That is pretty much possible.
What is the state of the relationship between the UAE and India and how is this relationship being further developed?
MOORTHY: I think it has been traditionally based on culture and the human relations where the platform for relationship has been already built. For the last few years or so, the growing economies bring these border countries to come together. Where an Indian investor trying to invest in UAE, as well as UAE entities trying to establish their offices and factories in India I think sky is the limit for them to grow. We are there as a facilitating agent operating within the border countries.
The banking sector is positive. However, for the real estate sector, I would use caution. I think even a majority of the banks would not be interested in taking some large exposures. With other sectors, everybody is positive in some sectors like hospitality, healthcare, and education. There are emerging opportunities that will create a big advancement for bankers.
What is your general economic outlook for the UAE?
MOORTHY: I think it’s going to be positive except for the real estate sector which I mentioned earlier. The real estate sector may take another couple of years to see the buoyancy, in my opinion. I believe all the other sectors are going to do decently.