Two large Italian banks are likely to open up their branches in India to assist financially Italian businesses set up operations here, according to Mr Pierfrancesco Gaggi, Director, Associazione Bancari Italiana or the Italian Banking Association, which represents the Italian credit and financial industry in all international forums.

Currently, some of the Italian banks operate in India only through representatives in various cities, he said on the sidelines of a seminar.

“I cannot say when they are opening the branch. Officials of the banks are having a discussion with the Reserve Bank of India on the regulatory compliances, including the minimum capital required, to set up a branch,” Mr Gaggi said. He did not give the banks name. “I am not authorised to give the names,” he said.

The association has 1,032 members of which nearly half are banks. Representatives from ten banks are part of the 100-member business delegation currently in India. The Italian Ministerial and Business Mission participated in a business forum in Delhi on October 31, and one in Chennai today.

Italian banks are interested in setting up branches in India due to the strong business growth between the two countries, which last year touched $8.50 billion. This is likely to double in the next five-six years, he said.

Inaugurating the seminar on ‘Doing Business with Tamil Nadu' to coincide with the delegation's visit to Chennai, Tamil Nadu's Industry Minister, Mr S.P. Velumani, said Italy was ranked 12th largest investor in India with an investment of nearly $1.20 billion, which was 0.7 per cent of the total investment inflow into the country from April 2000 to August 2011.

Inviting Italian industry to invest in Tamil Nadu, the Minister said a number of new projects with a total investment of around Rs 20,000 crore are under various stages of finalisation. Future prospects for investment and trade are encouraging as India is increasingly being seen by Italy as an important economic partner in Asia. Within India, Tamil Nadu offers a better business climate, he said.

(This article was published on November 3, 2011)
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