03-10-2021 09:15 AM | Source: Reuters
Bank of Baroda to seek investor in credit card business, says CEO
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MUMBAI - Indian lender Bank of Baroda will look for an investor in its credit card business while it also considers a potential listing for its insurance joint venture in the next 18 to 24 months, its chief executive told Reuters.

The moves flagged by Sanjiv Chadha late on Monday are part of efforts by the state-owned bank to strengthen its position in a post-pandemic world, with global consultancy firm McKinsey & Co hired to help it to execute broad transformation plans.

"We may look at getting an investor into the cards business in the next 12 months," Chadha said of its BoB Financial Solutions operation.

The business, set up in 1994 to house the bank's credit card portfolio, is a wholly owned subsidiary that offers more than half a million customers a range of Visa and Mastercard-linked card options.

"We are also looking to explore the possibility of listing IndiaFirst Life Insurance Co in the next 18-24 months as the business has been doing very well and we believe it has significant value," Chadha said.

Bank of Baroda has a 44% stake in the insurance company, with Union Bank of India holding 30% and Carmel Point Investments 26%.

The previously flagged sale of Bank of Baroda's 40% stake in India International Bank Malaysia Berhad (IIBMB) remains a work in progress, said Chadha, who took the helm in January last year.

Bank of Baroda is also looking at using excess capital from international operations to bolster its domestic business, where returns are higher.

"We're looking at where the return is sub-optimal and are looking at redeploying that capital back to India," Chadha said, adding that the bank has no plans to raise capital for at least a year after a 45 billion rupee ($617 million) capital increase this month.

While the bank plans to keep the size of its branch network largely unchanged, it does plan to set up a network of agents to offer banking services at locations other than its existing branches or ATMs, Chadha said, adding that this is unlikely to involve any dramatic change in the size of its workforce.

"We are trying to look at how we staff the bank as we move forward," Chadha said.

"We are exploring hiring people on contract to increase feet on street, how people can work in a hybrid model or work from home, among other things."

($1 = 72.9330 rupees)


(Refiles to correct spelling of CEO name in penultimate paragraph)