A day after applying for a bank licence, Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla on Wednesday said the new bank licence norms announced by the Reserve Bank are not discriminatory towards large corporate houses.

“The banking licence guidelines are very clear. They are not discriminatory towards large corporate houses,” Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla told reporters on the sidelines of a conference organised by industry body FICCI.

The comments come after Mahindras, another large coporate group, had on Monday said it was keeping itself out of the banking fray as it found the licensing norms too strict for a non-banking finance company like Mahindra Finance.

Birla said, “We are very happy the way guidelines are put across.”

The Reserve Bank had in February said large industrial and business houses, apart from NBFCs and others, could enter banking arena if they meet the fit and proper criteria set by it.

Yesterday, the AV Birla group company Aditya Birla Nuvo said in an exchange filing that its board had approved a proposal to apply for a bank licence.

The RBI is in the process of granting fresh banking licences and has set July 1 as the deadline for applying for the same.

Birla also said that the group is not looking for a partner in telecom, which is being run under the Idea brand name.

So far, Anil Ambani Group, Edelweiss group, IIFL, Srei Infra Finance, Travel Finance Corp etc have applied for banking licence, while the Tatas and RIL, LIC, India Post are also expected to enter the fray.

Earlier this month, RBI while issuing clarification on new bank licence guidelines said, the entities getting licences to open new banks will be given 18 months to open branches against 12 months prescribed earlier, and promoters would have to transfer their holdings to the non-operative financial holding company (NOFHC) in a stipulated period.

The NOFHC envisages holding of the bank and other regulated financial services entities of the promoters under the NOFHC and prudential exposure norms for the regulated entities.

The country has 93 banks out of which, has 26 public sector ones, 22 private sector banks and 45 foreign lenders, apart from 56 regional rural banks.

Ten banks were licensed on the basis of guidelines issued in January 1993. The guidelines were revised in January 2001 based on the experience gained from the functioning of these banks, and fresh applications were invited.

Of the 10 licences issued in 1993, four banks merged with other lenders over a period of time. Times Bank merged with HDFC Bank, while Global Trust Bank was amalgamated with the state-run Oriental Bank of Commerce.

Centurion Bank took over Bank of Punjab to become Centurion Bank of Punjab, which was merged with HDFC Bank in 2008.

Under the 2001-02 licence lot, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Yes Bank, and IndusInd Banks came up. That apart, the government infra lender IDBI was converted into a commercial bank under the IDBI Bank name in this lot in October 2004.

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