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Union Bank keen to compete in credit cards private equity businessesnews
26 September 2007

Mumbai: Public sector bank Union Bank of India (UBI) is planning to enter three new businesses, according to chairman and managing director M V Nair.

The three businesses in the offing are general insurance, credit card and private equity.

Commenting on their prioritisation, Nair said that first the bank would finalise the life insurance venture, followed by the mutual fund business. The bank is discussing the possibility of joint ventures for the mutual fund business with some foreign companies. Further down the list are the three probable businesses of general insurance, private equity and credit card businesses.

Nair said that UBI plans to get its general insurance off the ground sometime in financial year 2008-09, but is yet to get a fix on the time frame for its credit card and private equity ventures.

Last year, UBI had signed a MoU with Bank of India, and with Japanese insurance major Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance, with Bank of India as the majority shareholder in the venture with a 51-per cent stake in the venture, followed by Dai-ichi''s 26 per cent, and the remaining 23 per cent owned by Union Bank. (See: Union Bank, Bank of India, Dai-ichi Life join hands for Life Insurance JV)

Nair said that UBI had changed its deposit strategy last year, enhancing its focus on core deposits. He said the bank is using that strategy to contain the growth of wholesale deposits, which were at Rs18,300 crore as on 31 March. Core deposits are seen growing at 25 per cent during July-September, and may end the year with a 28-30 per cent growth.

Total deposits are expected to display a growth of 23 per cent during this financial year, according to Nair.

Cautioning on improved margins, Nair said that UBI''s focus on low-cost deposits may not reflect in better margins this year, as interest rates on deposits rose during the June quarter, due to competition. To that extent, the bank could not pass on the interest rate hike to borrowers. On the retail side, the higher deposit rates motivated savings depositors to shift their resources to term deposits, and the resultant higher cost also kept margins under check for the current financial year.

Nair said that to maintain its margins at projected levels, UBI is working on two strategies; the first to maintain current account growth at over 30 per cent, and the second to see savings deposit growth at 25 per cent.

Union Bank, is in the process of opening offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi.

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Union Bank keen to compete in credit cards private equity businesses