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Business Home > Nation
Canara Bank opens first ME office in Sharjah, sees ‘big opportunity’

Alvin R. Cabral / 21 June 2010

SHARJAH — India’s Canara Bank, the country’s third-largest bank in terms of domestic operations, opened its first Middle East representative office in Sharjah on Sunday with a positive outlook of doing business here in the UAE.

The bank, instituted in 1906, has “a rich tradition of financing,” and has not shown any loss during its 104 years of existence, A C Mahajan, Canara Bank’s Chairman and Managing Director, told Khaleej Times after the inauguration.

“Canara Bank is a very premier organisation, with a motive of serving the society… the interests of businesses and the poor are protected, and investments are secure,” he said.

With 3,043 branches and over 2,000 ATMs serving over 37 million clients in India, Canara Bank — with a five per cent market share in India — is bound to continue to do well not just in the country, but outside of it as well.

Canara Bank’s net worth of over $4 billion and 20-22 per cent annual growth is a testament to the bank’s excellent performance, capped recently by a $750 million profit in 2009. Canara Bank is also 73 per cent owned by the Indian government that, according to Mahajan, is a “big guarantee” for those who wish to do business with the bank.

It is also the first Indian bank to open a representative office in Sharjah, and its presence here in the emirate presents a “big opportunity,” Mahajan said.

But this is only the beginning, according to him, as the bank has already laid out its plans of expanding further not just in the UAE, but in the region as well. Branches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are already in the pipeline.

“Our people will be doing business everywhere,” he said. “We will be moving around wherever they are needed.”

The bank has also applied for a licence to open in Bahrain, and is also presently looking into Qatar.

Back in India, Mahajan said that Canara Bank has made its presence felt by being very active in its corporate social responsibilities, most notably by helping the poor with various projects.

The bank has established more than 45 rural training colleges where free skill improvement services are given to artisans, farmers and others. It has also assisted certain areas with water shortages by setting up systems to supply drinking water, as well as shouldering expenses for doctors to perform medical missions.

Mahajan sees a “very bright future” in the industry, claiming that “the [global financial] crisis is behind us, and businesses are looking up everywhere. Whatever crisis was there, it is over.”

With the economy moving up, Mahajan says that people are starting to have money, but they are uncertain of what opportunities they should invest in, which is the primary reason why Canara Bank is here.

“This representative office will help provide information on how to do business in India,” he said, adding that the bank will help provide would-be entrepreneurs what opportunities and financial facilities are available to start a business in India.

“This is the purpose of this office, to have business and improve it, and to help businesses come here,” Mahajan said.

“Being a robust organisation, Canara Bank is poised to do better.”



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