Home / Companies / Samir Bhatia quits Barclays Plc’s

Mumbai: Samir Bhatia, managing director, global retail and commercial banking, or GRCB, (India and Indian Ocean), has resigned from Barclays Plc’s India operations.

“Ram Gopal, chief operating officer for GRCB India has been appointed as the interim MD, reporting to Mark Jones, MD Asia, GRCB emerging markets,’’ the bank said in a statement. Bhatia’s exit comes at a time when the retail and commercial banking business is seeing a sharp rise in bad debts. The rising non-performing loans of the bank’s India unit have pushed up the British bank’s impairment charges for the quarter ended 31 March 2009.

“Impairment at global retail and commercial banking, emerging markets increased sharply and slightly ahead of expectations driven by increases in the retail portfolio in India and United Arab Emirates or UAE," said a statement from the bank, the third largest UK bank by assets. The bank also said the strong income growth at GRCB (emerging markets) was driven by prior year investment, particularly in UAE, India and Egypt across retail and commercial sectors. Impairment increased significantly with higher retail impairment charges in India and costs grew at a higher rate than income, leading to a loss before tax in the quarter, the bank added.

A substantial part of the impairment growth is in unsecured consumer lending and cards, particularly in India. To put this in context, the asset book remains quite small. Consumer loans and card balances in India totaled A£1.1 billion at the end of the quarter.

The bank had been very aggressive in the unsecured business space when it entered it in 2006. Over the past year, however, the bank has been scaling down its personal and credit card loans businesses. Barclays Bank Plc has invested over £240million on growing its GRCB businesses in India. It operates across five branches and has 835,000 clients and customers nationwide.

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