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SBI set for major restructuring for branches in UK

SNS | New Delhi |

From 1 April, the UK operations of the State Bank of India (SBI) will become a subsidiary named State Bank of India UK Limited.

The announcement of the major restructuring has been made by India’s largest state-owned bank.

As per the decision, the new UK-incorporated banking entity will take over control of all the retail branches of SBI in the UK. The branches were previously recognised as overseas branches of the Indian entity.

The move is in compliance with wider ring-fencing of capital requirements by the Bank of England.

Sanjiv Chadha, SBI’s Regional Head for UK, said that only the brand changes and there is no visible change and that all the 12 retail branches in UK will become branches of SBI UK Ltd.

“Apart from that, if we look at the day to day, there will be no dislocation,” he said.

He explains that while customers would be able to carry on using their debit cards and other banking facilities as before, the move marks a strategic shift for the bank with a greater focus on the UK market.

“We will be looking to doing more business in the UK, expanding the products that are designed for the UK market,” he said.

SBI operates seven branches in London and five each in Manchester, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester and Coventry – all cities with a large concentration of Indian diaspora population.

The move follows Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) directing foreign banks a few years ago to move from their retail status as overseas branches to independent entities in order to protect depositors in the UK from fluctuations in foreign markets.

“As a subsidiary, the capital will be ring-fenced and that brings an additional comfort level,” said Chadha.

He highlighted that the restructuring marked a major endorsement for London as a financial capital of the world, despite uncertainties triggered by the 2016 referendum in favour of an exit from the European Union (EU).

There are uncertainties over the passporting rights of the UK-based Banks which can at present sell services throughout the 28-member bloc.

If the UK and the EU fail to strike a deal on the issue, the UK-based banks could lose their passporting rights post-Brexit.

(With inputs from PTI.)