Public sector lender State Bank of India (SBI) will set up a branch in Doha during the first quarter of 2011, said a senior bank official.

“The new office should start functioning by March 2011,” Chief Executive Officer-designate for the SBI branch, Satyajit Pratap told Qatar Tribune on Monday.

As per the report, the bank had sought authorisation from the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) to open a whole sale banking unit in Qatar in May 2010.

The opening of a business office in Doha was an important part of the SBI’s aggressive global expansion programme, he added.

The bank, which has set up an overseas banking unit at its headquarters in Mumbai to assess and explore its expansion activities abroad, is keen on increasing the bank’s footprint globally.

Given the growing opportunities in Qatar and the region, the SBI has been planning to enhance its presence and business profile in the country and the Gulf region in a big way.

Pratap said the SBI saw great potential in the country and the region, and expressed confidence that the Doha branch will start registering profit by one year.

The SBI, which has 152 branches overseas, aims to increase the number of foreign offices to over 1,000 in the next couple of years.

It also plans to open branch office in Jeddah soon.

The Doha office would not only focus on enhancing its India-related business, but also take care of global needs of the bank’s existing as well as prospective customers, he said.

Its operation would contribute substantially to the bank’s global balance sheet.

Though the QFCRA authorisation technically includes all banking services, the SBI will provide wholesale banking solutions, he said.

The services would include collecting large commercial deposits and making big loans to high net worth corporates and individuals, offering bank guarantees, counter-guarantees, Lines of Credit among others.

More In: Business | Companies