ICICI Bank to open 500 branches every year: Kochhar

Thursday, 27 January 2011 00:33 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

DAVOS: India’s largest private sector lender, ICICI Bank, will add 400-500 branches annually over the next three years and focus on financing infrastructure projects in road and power.

“I feel that we have to grow beyond the number of existing branches... Over the next 2-3 years, we would continue to add branches at the rate of 400-500 per year,” ICICI Bank Managing Director and CEO Chanda Kochhar told PTI in an interview.

The bank, which reported a 30.5 per cent increase in net profit to Rs 1,437 crore during the quarter ending December 31, has been expanding its branch network at rapid pace. Presently, it has about 2,500 branches and 5,800 ATMs.

Kochhar is here as one of the six co-chairs of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum being attended by the world’s top CEOs, heads of states, academicians and even faith leaders.  The Indian government yesterday decided to honour Kocchar with the Padam Bhushan, a civilian award given by the state in recognition of an individual’s achievements.

Talking about the expansion plans, Kochhar said the bank did not open any new branch in the current financial year, as it acquired Bank of Rajasthan “that itself meant addition of 500 branches”.

The bank, which has total assets of Rs 3.63 lakh crore, is looking at pan-India expansion, including in Bihar, which has seen rapid development.  “Well, bank grows where GDP grows. So, all the states where GDP growth takes place, banks will grow,” she added.

ICICI Bank, which was quite aggressive on personal loans till 2008, has shifted focus and it has been concentrating on corporate sector financing as one of the key areas of “sustainable growth”.  With the private sector expected to play a major role in infrastructure financing, projected at USD 1 trillion in the next 5-6 years, ICICI Bank would remain active in areas like roads and power.

“I do feel ICICI Bank will play a major role in infrastructure project finance... As investment takes place in phases like in road and power projects, we move as investment takes place... this is an area of big focus,” Kochhar, who took over the reins of the bank during the economic downturn in 2009, said.