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Monday, May 24, 2010

ICICI Bank eyes No.1 Indian bank position

ICICI Bank, which will see its presence in western India grow with the acquisition of Bank of Rajasthan, has said no to foreign takeovers as it wants to focus on becoming India's top bank in terms of profitability and productivity.

"No overseas (acquisition). We are not looking at any prospect (abroad). Internally, our growth strategy is quite India-linked. We are doing just one prospect (deal). I think it is too early to talk of any other prospect," ICICI Bank CEO and Managing Director Chanda Kochhar told when asked which domestic or overseas deals were on its radar.

Asked if the latest deal would help her achieve the dream of putting ICICI ahead of number one State Bank of India, she said, "The number one position could be in many ways like productivity, efficiency and profitability.

"We are the number one in many of these parameters. Clearly, profits will be a key area to our operations," she said, adding that Bank of Rajasthan would help ICICI Bank not only in terms of branch expansion by 25 per cent but also greater visibility in western and northern parts of the country.

ICICI Bank's Board yesterday approved takeover of Bank of Rajasthan, which has a branch network of 463, through an all-share deal that values the Udaipur-based bank at a little over Rs 3,000 crore.

Normally it takes 3-4 years in terms of branch expansion of this size and Bank of Rajasthan has given the ICICI Bank the surge, she said. "It is a strategic move for us. The amalgamation gives wide network and reach in northern and western India. There, our network was smaller compared to states say in the south."

Asked if it was the best movement in her 25-year-long career and as the head of India's largest private sector bank, whose reins she took over last year from her mentor K V Kamath, she said, "Yes, it certainly is one of the high points of my career."

On whether ICICI has once again adopted the aggressive approach in expanding through acquisition, she said, "I would like to distinguish between the terms aggression and growth. Of course, we are a growth-oriented bank and that does not mean that we need to be aggressive. A sound sustainable, profitable growth is what we are looking at."

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