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Monday, June 06, 2005

200 years later, SBI looks overseas to fuel growth (Indian Express)

200 years later, SBI looks overseas to fuel growth (Indian Express) 
DEV CHATTERJEE         
 Posted online: Sunday, June 05, 2005 at 0029 hours IST
 
MUMBAI, JUNE 4: If you walk into the exhibition set up by State Bank of India at the National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai to celebrate its 200th birthday, don�t miss a typewritten yellow-coloured letter written by Tata Sons Chairman J.R.D. Tata in 1943 protesting 50 per cent reservation of jobs for Europeans.

��As an Indian I am completely against this reservation,�� said Tata � who was a member of the then Imperial Bank � as he sought equal opportunities for Indians.
 
As State Bank of India, which was constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1955 as the successor to the Imperial Bank of India, flags off its seeped-in-history bicentennial celebrations here today, JRD Tata would have been proud of what Indians managers have achieved over the last 58 years.

State Bank is today India�s largest bank with profits of over $1.13 billion (around Rs 5,000 crore) and a balance sheet footage of over $113 billion (Rs 5,00,000 crore).

It has been a long journey for the bank, which opened for business as Bank of Calcutta on June 2, 1806, as interest rates shot up and East India Company�s government wanted public credit.

Over the years, SBI has turned itself into a financial powerhouse and now looks beyond India to grow. ��I want the SBI not only to go deeper into rural areas but would like to see a State Bank of India logo in every capital of the world,�� Finance Minister P. Chidambaram set out the bank�s future agenda here today.

��The challenge of the future is daunting... �� warned Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. ��Size does benefit but size alone does not guarantee success,�� the PM said.

No doubt the road ahead for SBI is getting more challenging. Take for example, SBI with its $1 billion profit is far lower than Citigroup�s profit of $17 billion and Bank of America�s $14 billion in December �04. The same year, HSBC reported a net profit of $11.8 billion.

Former chairman Dipankar Basu says the bank must adapt to change in order to survive. ��The challenges ahead are to attract and retain younger talent who can compete with foreign and private banks,�� says Basu. ��We have to look abroad for opportunities.��

SBI is planning a �Project Vijay� that will put it on the global banking map, as envisaged by the finance minister. �By 2008, SBI plans to rank itself among the top 50 global banks and among the top five in Asia,�� said SBI Chairman A.K. Purwar.



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