India’s second largest lender, ICICI Bank, is aiming for growth of 30-35% over the next three years as strong economic growth underpins investment and corporate loan demand.
A $4.9 billion (Rs19,355 crore) share sale this year—the country’s largest—was sufficient to help meet that growth target, so the bank did not plan a return to the equity markets, said Chanda Kochhar, ICICI Bank’s joint managing director and chief financial officer.
Still, ICICI, which braved jittery bond markets in September to raise $2 billion, will keep tapping global debt markets to fund lending, she told the Reuters India Investment Summit.
ICICI Bank joint managing director and chief financial officer?Chanda?Kochhar
“We want to widen and diversify our investor base, so we don’t just look at dollar investors. We did good issuances in the sterling and the euro market as well a few months ago. We would look at the Japanese market. So, we would look across the globe,” Kochhar said on Thursday. “We would continue to raise a large amount of debt funds.”
Kochhar said consumer credit growth in India was expected to slow to between 10% and 15%, from 30-35% earlier, but borrowing from corporate clients would take up the slack, growing at a rate of 30%.
Kochhar expects ICICI Bank to grow faster than the broader financial sector. “If the economy continues to grow at 9-10%, or so, I think the financial sector would have a growth rate of about three times that... We can expect the growth of 25- 30% for the financial sector.”
ICICI Bank is India’s largest private sector bank, with assets of $92 billion as of September. A market capitalization of $32 billion makes it India’s most valuable bank, and it has the second largest weighting in the benchmark stock index.
ICICI Bank shares gained 3.24% on Thursday to close at Rs1,199.30 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
Kochhar said India’s attraction to foreign investors meant the foreign fund inflows would persist. The flows, including more than $16 billion into the stock market so far this year, have complicated policy management for the authorities.
“Because we have a lot of foreign flows coming in, therefore, I would think we would continue to take some measures for some time as a country to keep liquidity in the system under control.”
“Which would mean that interest rates won’t come falling down substantially. But I don’t see a reason for interest rates to go up,” she said. “We all have to recognize that the rupee will continue to strengthen for some time. Industry is becoming more aware of this fact and starting to build this in their planning going forward.”