Promoters to reduce stake in Kotak Bank

NEW DELHI APRIL 9. The promoters of Kotak Mahindra Bank are working on plans to bring down their equity by 11 per cent to 49 per cent by 2004 to comply with the Reserve Bank of India's stipulations.

The bank was exploring various options for offloading promoters (and families) equity, which now stands at about 60 per cent to match the RBI's latest stipulation.

The board of the bank would consider mergers, public offers, private placements and other options and work out the plans, the bank's Executive Vice-Chairman, Uday Kotak, told media persons while sharing his organisation's future plan at the time of inauguration of the maiden branch of the bank here today.

Asked if the bank was in favour of acquisitions in the context of the RBI having recently relaxed the limit of promoters holding in banks to 49 per cent from the earlier 40 per cent, Mr. Kotak said "We are open to these ideas. But no concrete plans are in store". He said the bank's focus would be on the retail segment and it might come out with credit cards after 2-3 years, once it stabilised with the banking.

The bank would open 75 branches within three years from the present two branches in Delhi and Mumbai.

It would focus more on Delhi and Mumbai and was keen on establishing at least 25 branches by March 2004, he said, elaborating on the plans to reach out to `mass affluent' class with customers having access to the entire Visa network of 4,500 ATMs in India and eight lakh ATMs across the globe.

He said customers would also have access to over 800 ATMs free of cost through a sharing agreement with UTI Bank.

About its retail plans, he said soon the bank would embark on housing and personal loan segments in a big way.