Australian banker Westpac Bank, the country's second largest by market capitalisation, has been granted a license by the Indian central bank to set up a branch in the region.
Rob Whitfield, group executive of Westpac Institutional Bank, in a statement on Monday said India's approval will allow Westpac to take advantage of the growing trade and investment relations between India and Australia, most notably in the agriculture and resources sectors.
"India is growing and the sectors that we are targeting for growth will be resources and the agriculture sector," Yogan Rasanayakam, Westpac's general manager of Asia, said in The Australian. "Our focus will be Australian companies going to India and Indian companies looking to Australia.
"There are more and more Indian companies looking to get into resources. They have been challenged for the assets by Chinese companies. They are also looking to Australia for assets that help secure their food supply."
On definite terms, Westpac is now authorized to provide commercial and wholesale banking operations in India for the first time, the statement pointed out. The license likewise enables Westpac to handle rupee-denominated transactions.
"India is Australia's fifth-largest trading partner and fourth-largest export market so it is a very important market for our customers," Whitfield said.
"Extending our presence in India through our Mumbai branch will further position us to support our Australian customers with their trade and investment activities in India, and Indian customers with their increasing trade and investment flows with Australia."
Westpac, which has been operating a "representative" office for the past five years, plans to open its first branch in Mumbai. No details were provided on target timeframe launch of the branch.
Westpac, which has branch licences in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, has earlier said its planned Asian expansion will be selective.
The Mumbai branch will concentrate on trade finance, working capital and foreign exchange transactions.
"This will allow us to support our Australian and Indian customers in India like we would do in our George Street branch in Sydney," Rasanayakam said.
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