First Gulf Bank reaches Indian market with Kotak


(CRAIG SCARR)

First Gulf Bank (FGB) yesterday expanded its global presence by entering the Indian market – the second largest and fastest growing after China. The UAE bank has agreed a tie-up with Indian financial powerhouse Kotak Mahindra Group.

The move will enable FGB to target the vast Non-Resident Indian (NRI) market in the Emirates. “The tie-up will benefit FGB’s expanding First Wealth client base,” said a spokesman. “These are customers who utilise the bank’s bespoke wealth management service, which provides a comprehensive range of investment products and services tailored to the financial planning needs of local and expatriate clientele.”

Kotak Mahindra Group, established in 1985, is one of India’s top banking conglomerates. It has a net worth of more than Dh4.78 billion and employs 15,300 people.

It has a network of branches, franchisees, representative offices and satellite offices across 340 cities and towns in India plus offices in Dubai, New York, London, Mauritius and Singapore. The group services 3.2 million customer accounts.

Mufazzal Kajiji, Head of Wealth Management at FGB, said: “Kotak will provide the specialised expertise to deliver specific solutions for NRIs, who have distinct demands.

“NRIs have complex and differentiated requirements related to the fact that they are outside their country of origin. These needs, however, present us with a host of wealth management opportunities and we have entered into this agreement to target them with specific services.”

The tie-up will enable clients to transfer remittances directly from FGB to Kotak and use a dedicated value account that enables holders to have savings in both banks in UAE dirhams and Indian rupees.

Customers will be able to gain access to brokerage and insurance products as well as more than 250 India-based mutual funds. And cheques issued by either bank may be cleared by the other.

FGB’s First Wealth services oversee client’s other investment portfolios such as health plans, savings and insurance. Somer Massey, Director of International Business at Kotak, said: “With the economy growing at more than eight per cent and the Sensex delivering close to a 50 per cent return in 2007, India is fast emerging as a key economic force on the world map.

“We are the third largest private sector bank in India in terms of market capitalisation and have 150 bank branches,” he said.

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