Indian five hundred rupee banknotes are arranged for a photograph in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Mauritius’s SBM Holdings Treads Cautiously in India After Losses

(Bloomberg) -- SBM Holdings Ltd., owner of Mauritius’s second-biggest lender, plans cautious expansion in India after a streak of loss-making years, said Andrew Bainbridge, the group’s new chief executive officer.

SBM, which has been in India for about 22 years, was granted a wholly owned-subsidiary license last year. Banking activities will be conducted under the new legal entity from the second half, subject to approvals, Bainbridge said, insulating it from any troubles by the parent company on the Indian Ocean-island nation.

The lender has no plans to increase its four branches on the subcontinent, according to the 50-year-old Bainbridge, who’s been CEO since January.

“We have lost money for the past five or six years,” he said in an interview in the capital, Port Louis, on Thursday. “Going forward it’s about building a well diversified deposit base, it’s about building a steadily growing business that focuses on small- and medium-sized enterprises, retail clients and smaller corporates.”

With 21 licensed banks, domestic lenders such as Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd. are expanding in the regional market. SBM, which has quarter of the market share in Mauritius, sees Kenya and India having significant potential. The group also plans bigger operations in Madagascar, a nearby island nation, Bainbridge said.

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