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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bank of India opens first branch in the Kingdom

Bank of India opens first branch in the Kingdom

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090528_14.jpg

Indian lender becomes first bank from Indian subcontinent to set up operations in Cambodia with new Phnom Penh branch

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TRACEY SHELTON

Employees of Bank of India man the reception desk Wednesday at the newly opened branch in Phnom Penh.

THE Mumbai-based Bank of India launched its first branch in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, becoming the first bank from the subcontinent to set up shop in Cambodia.

RC Baliarsingh, chief executive of the Bank of India Cambodia brand, said he was optimistic about the future of the Cambodian market and confident the bank could translate its long experience into success in the Kingdom.

"The government of India sees a great future for this country because it is now growing up, so we want to be part of this growth and share our success," he told the Post Wednesday, adding that the competitiveness of the local banking sector made it a dynamic place to do business. "Competition happens everywhere; and when there is more competition, it will benefit customers more."

The state-owned Bank of India, founded in 1906, has more than 3,000 branches across India, 28 branches overseas and offices in five continents.

Baliarsingh added that the bank had no set plans for further expansion in Cambodia, but expressed hopes its entry into the market would encourage other Indian firms. He also said the bank was in a good position to weather the international financial crisis, unlike many major banks in the United States.

"[W]e have a strong base and have gone through many crises and both world wars," he said. "There is no problem for us."

Saurav Ray, first secretary of the Indian embassy in Phnom Penh, said the bank could boost the Cambodian economy by giving added confidence to Indian investors and making it easier for them to transfer investment capital. "The opening of [an] Indian bank in Cambodia is a significant sign [of] increasing bilateral trade volume between the two countries," he said. "It is a good sign for Indian investors to come to Cambodia because they can have more confidence," he said.

He said that currently around 30 Indian companies were present in Cambodia along with about 2,000 business people.

In the last year, the Bank of India has seen year-on-year profits rise nearly 50 percent, rising from 2,009 crore Indian rupees (US$422 million) in March last year to 3,007 crore in March 2009, according to the bank's Website.

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