Vimala Vasan

Abu Dhabi, Dec. 22

ICICI Bank on Wednesday opened a branch at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) to take advantage of Dubai's growing reputation as a major financial hub, the bank's Managing Director and CEO, Mr K. V. Kamath, said.

Mr Kamath, who is in Dubai in connection with the opening of the bank's DIFC branch, told Business Line that Dubai was emerging as a financial hub in the region and the global map. "Our job as a bank is to be where there is good flow of capital and this prompted our decision to open a branch at the DIFC."

Mr Kamath said that ICICI Bank would start its operations by offering private wealth management services to NRI customers. "This is our immediate plan. In due course, we will be looking at other options. There could be a possibility of using the branch here as a syndication centre, similar to our operations in Singapore. The Gulf region provides a number of opportunities, which we can look at in the future," he said.

Mr Kamath said that the bank has had a presence in the Gulf region for three years. Indian products and the remittances business had made a good headway, he said, adding that he was very satisfied with the bank's performance in the region.

The licence for ICICI Bank to open a branch was granted by Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). This was in addition to the existing representative office in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The services of this branch are available to high net worth clients with liquid assets of $1 million or more.

Earlier, in a statement, Mr Kamath said, "The UAE itself has more than 53,000 millionaires. We are delighted to set up a branch at DIFC, as it will provide the necessary platform to expand the international private banking operations in the region."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 23, 2005)
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