ANZ ploughed capital into India in last two years. It is ready to do so again.

Mark Whelan, group executive, institutional, ANZ
Mark Whelan, group executive, institutional, ANZ


  • According to group executive Mark Whelan, India is the only market where ANZ has increased capital over the last two years. Further capital addition will be determined by how quickly it can sign up new customers

Mumbai: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) is ready to bring more capital into its India business, a top executive said, as confidence grows that the domestic economy will attract global investments and grow at a steady pace.

One of the 45 foreign banks operating in India, ANZ currently has capital of about AUD 600 million ($386 million) which has nearly doubled in the past two years. India allows foreign banks to operate either as a branch or wholly owned subsidiary of the parent. All except two — DBS Bank India and SBM Bank India — work as branches. 

“The time is very much appropriate to grow here. If you look at the basics of the Indian economy and where its place is in the world, this is India's century," Mark Whelan, group executive, institutional, ANZ said in an interview. “We think there is significant upside here, and we will therefore be here, and grow with our customer base." 

The lender’s total exposure to India was at 23,813 crore as on 31 December, of which 4,020 crore was in loans and advances. ANZ, which re-entered India in 2011 after exiting the market a decade earlier, has one branch each in Mumbai, Gurugram and Bengaluru. 

According to Whelan, any addition to capital would be determined by how quickly the bank signs up new customers. The ANZ veteran said that among all its markets, India is the only one where the bank has increased capital over the last two years. 

“We have been moving capital around to try and get more capital-efficient in every country, and there is only one country in our network where we've increased capital and that is India," he said. “We do not want to go and put a lot (of capital) in and then try and search for the business. We are better off getting the business and then adding capital and more resources and more tech."

Whelan joined ANZ in 2004 and is also a member of its executive committee responsible for the bank’s global institutional business across 15 Asian markets as well as Papua New Guinea, Europe, America and the Middle East. The executive, now on a four-day visit to India, said he saw significant improvement in the ease with which he could leave the airport after all formalities and reach his hotel, about 18 km from where he landed, an indicator of how things have improved in the world’s fifth-largest economy. 

“It appears to me that it is easier to do business here in a whole range of ways. Whether you are transporting goods across the country, the infrastructure investments, the legal system," said Whelan, who last came to India in 2017. 

ANZ’s push for more clients come at a time corporate borrowers are somewhat reluctant to take on more debt. In the last few years, they have been repaying large quantities of debt, after years of a credit binge that left many in trouble and at the risk of losing control of their companies. 

Asked if he is witnessing a revival of corporate demand, Whelan said the appetite for debt is building. This phenomenon of deleveraging, he said, is visible in other parts of the world, including many developed nations, where corporate balance sheets are in the best shape.

Global corporations see India’s young and educated working-age population as an opportunity, and banks are no exception. Many multinationals employ a large number of people in their global capability centres (GCCs) in India for captive technology support. ANZ’s India GCC is spread across two locations in Bengaluru. The bank has about 80 bankers and 9,000 GCC employees in India, accounting for 20% of its global workforce. It plans to increase the India GCC headcount by another 10-20%.

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