At least five foreign banks, two Indian insurance companies and many other financial institutions have approached the state-promoted Gujarat International Fin-Tec City (GIFT) City to set up shop in the country’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) being established here.
“Two of these foreign banks are in an advanced stage of discussions. Once they take a decision, they will approach Indian regulators, including the RBI, for a final approval. We expect some action in the next six months, by the time the Vibrant Gujarat Summit is held here in January 2017,” Ajay Pandey, Managing Director and Group CEO, GIFT City, told BusinessLine. He, however, declined to identify the foreign banks at this stage.
On the reasons for an increasing interest evinced by Indian and international financial institutions at GIFT-IFSC, he said, besides being early birds to derive the benefits of being in an emerging global business centre, some of these entities will also save 25-30 per cent in their operational costs, have lower compliance costs, enjoy the best infrastructure in India and a favourable cultural milieu.
The IFSC’s business transaction mark, which was over $100 million in February 2016, is expected to cross the $1-billion mark in the next few weeks.
The banks that have started operations at GIFT IFSC include ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank, YES Bank, Federal Bank and Kotak Bank. India’s largest lender SBI and IndusInd Bank are also expected to start their operations soon. Last week, Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) signed an agreement for a presence at GIFT-IFSC. Edelweiss and JM Financial have also evinced “substantial” interest, besides a slew of IT players with overseas business interests.
Pandey said New India Assurance and General Insurance Company are also likely to set up operations soon. Stock exchanges with whom MoUs have been signed by GIFT for IFSC operations include BSE, NSE and MCX.
At present, five office towers are coming up at GIFT SEZ. The Hiranandani Group’s tower will be ready by January 2017 where major financial players would move their offices. Besides, Bengaluru’s Brigade Group’s two towers will be ready in the next two years and Ahmedabad’s Savvy Group’s tower will follow. SBI, which will move in its Local Head Office in a 2.20-lakh sq ft area, and Reliance Capital will construct its own towers.