French bank opens its first Gujarat branch in Sanand

French multinational bank, Societe Generale, has opened its first branch in Sanand that will focus on serving local and multinational corporate clients. This is the first branch in the state and the third branch of the 150-year-old bank in India, after Mumbai and New Delhi.

"Gujarat has been chosen as our first step for expanding the bank's presence beyond Mumbai and New Delhi, because it is a very dynamic and investor friendly state in terms of economic growth. It is a dominating industrial state and financing industrial growth is one of our key vocations," Marc-Emmanuel Vives, chief executive and group chief country officer of Societe Generale said on Tuesday.

Sanand is the first branch of the bank to open in India after almost 20 years. "In the last 15 years or so, the focus of the group was on regions closer home. But now we are coming to a phase, where more focus is on Asian economies, especially India," Vives added.

The official felt that Gujarat's "industry mix" corresponded with the priorities of the bank whose strength lay in financing the oil and gas sector. The bank will also be tapping opportunities in pharmaceuticals, automotive, engineering, fertiliser and chemical sectors in the state.

From Sanand, Societe Generale will offer services like long-term financing, working capital, trade finance, foreign exchange, term deposits, accounts management, etc. to clients in Ahmedabad and other industrial towns of the state like Vadodara and Surat.

"At present we have about half-a-dozen clients in Gujarat whom we are servicing from our Mumbai office," Vives told mediapersons. The bank also proposes to offer specialised advisory and financing activities like merger and acquisition, project finance, equipment and commodities financing.

The bank which is looking to grow at 50% year-on-year in the country, is also planning to open new branches in Chennai, Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad after getting the necessary approvals and permissions from the Reserve Bank of India.

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