Close on the heels of Citigroup’s decision to exit retail banking business in India, South Africa’s second largest bank – FirstRand Bank – with $118 billion in assets is the latest foreign bank to exit India. The news was broken to FirstRand staff in Mumbai – its only branch – via a videoconference on Tuesday. FirstRand’s exit is the second retreat by a foreign lender in India within a week after US giant Citibank announced plans to sell its consumer banking business in 13 markets, including India late last week. First Rand India is a licensed financial services provider in India and operates as a “branch” of FirstRand Bank South Africa. In 2019, FirstRand Bank completed 10 years of operations in India under its corporate and investment banking franchise. According to FirstRand’s Bank India’s annual report (2019-20), its deposits stood at Rs 318 crore and advances at Rs 420 crore at the end of March 2020. Its investment book was of Rs 1,208 crore.
The capital adequacy was 29.09 per cent at the end of March 2020. FirstRand Bank is the largest listed financial services group (by market capitalisation) in Africa. The South African lender started operations as late as 2009 and started lending to individual customers and small and medium enterprises only in 2012. The plan was to expand further, add more branches and also eventually become the third bank in India to start a wholly owned subsidiary after Singapore’s DBS Bank and State Bank of Mauritius, but those plans never materialised due to lack of scale and rising non-performing assets in the country.