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DBS denies interest in IDBI Bank while staying bullish on India

·1-min read

Among Singapore banks, DBS has been the most aggressive in expanding in India.

DBS Group Holdings Ltd., Singapore’s largest lender that has been investing in India, said buying a stake in government-owned IDBI Bank Ltd. is not on its radar, even though it remained bullish about the country’s growth prospects.

Chief Executive Officer Piyush Gupta said the lender isn’t looking at a deal for the bank. His comments come after Indian media reported that DBS was considering purchasing a stake and held discussions with finance ministry officials in New Delhi.

Among Singapore banks, DBS has been the most aggressive in expanding in India. Two years ago, it took over Lakshmi Vilas Bank Ltd. in a deal orchestrated by the country’s central bank, the first time authorities turned to a foreign lender to bail out a struggling local institution. Since then, it’s looking to invest more in its India unit to accelerate growth.

“We are bullish on India,” Gupta said at a briefing on Thursday, citing the country’s strong growth rate. Still, he said his focus in the country is on the bank’s recent deal. “We are not in the market to look at anything else now,” he said.

Gupta has long-standing ambitions to grow in the large emerging market, where banks are ramping up lending in response to growing demand for consumer credit. DBS currently has over 600 branches across 19 Indian states after the acquisition of Lakshmi Vilas Bank.

Last week, Bloomberg News reported that India’s central bank - which is also the country’s banking regulator - will permit investors to buy a stake higher than 40% in IDBI Bank Ltd., potentially paving the path for the sale of the lender by the government.

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