Business Today

One-branch Show

Credit Suisse AG, India, is carving out a unique way to map its growth path.
By Clifford Alvares   Delhi     Print Edition: February 14, 2016
Mihir Doshi, Country Head, Credit Suisse AG (Photo: Rachit Goswami)
Mihir Doshi, Country Head, Credit Suisse AG (Photo: Rachit Goswami)

Despite the sling strung across his shoulder after a shoulder operation, Mihir Doshi manoeuvres through the Mumbai traffic with ease to reach his destination. Poised, skilful, and focused. Mickey, as he is known to his friends and colleagues, wears the same attitude in his role as the head of Credit Suisse's business in India. The usual discourse about branch expansion does not interest him; instead, he thinks of strategy to steer the bank on a growth path primarily based on client acquisitions and niche offerings.

"We can expand, but I do not think it is needed at the moment. Since the commencement of our bank in 2011, we have been adopting the strategy of growing cautiously"

Today, Credit Suisse AG in India, with a balance sheet of Rs 11,070 crore and just one branch in Mumbai, is doing roaring business by servicing entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals. It offers banking, wealth management and investment banking services, along with its securities business in fixed income, equities and more. It was, therefore. no surprise when Credit Suisse emerged as the Best Foreign Bank in the mid-sized category in the Business Today-KPMG study.


Credit Agricole: Quality of Assets / Mid-sized Foreign Bank

Thierry Hebraud, Senior Country Officer
Credit Agricole CIB ranks among the major foreign banks in India. With a balance sheet size of Rs 13,032 crore, it is focused on fixed income, trade finance, project and acquisition finance. Last year, the bank grew its advances by 62 per cent, while its net NPAs stood at zero. It's for this reason that the bank is ranked at the top in terms of quality of assets in the Business Today-KPMG Best Banks in India study.


In merely four years since it started operations in India in 2011, it has recorded close to 20 per cent increase in deposits, 59 per cent jump in advances and a massive 235 per cent jump in operating profits in 2014/ 15 - a grand show - emerging as the winner in the growth category as well. This, when many foreign banks are struggling with their wealth management businesses in India. Says Doshi, Country Head, Credit Suisse: "We can expand, but I don't think it is needed at the moment. Since the commencement of our bank in 2011, we have been adopting the strategy of growing cautiously. Where there has been an opportunity, we managed to leverage our regional strengths across investment and private banking to grow our business and margins."

While Credit Suisse, globally, is right-sizing the business, its Asia and India operations are unaffected. "We have endeavoured to play to our strengths to grow our business. On the hiring side, we have maintained the optimum balance and hand-picked the right team," he adds.

Of the prominent bankers who have joined Credit Suisse recently is Rajiv Baruah, the new branch manager and head of fixed income. His role is cut out - to get people to set their sights higher. "At the moment, we are a niche bank, which, among other things, is very good at providing structured financing to a set of self-selected clients. Our ambitions are far larger, though. It is my job to get the team comfortable with aggressive goals and chart a roadmap about how those goals can be achieved," says Baruah.

When the global investment banking business is shrinking, Credit Suisse's investment bank arm has been a part of major deals, including Famy Care's female healthcare business, which Mylan Inc. US acquired for $750 million. The other prominent investment banking advisory business was that of Coal India, one of the foremost public sector companies on the list for further divestment.

Investment banking is the mainstay for Credit Suisse in India. Though the company does not rank among the top deal makers in terms of the number of deals, it has been a good year on the revenue front. A recent media report pegs the fees for 2015 at $14 million. Doshi is upbeat about the investment banking business. He believes volume doesn't matter, "what matters is yield".

For a company that is biting into every pie in the Indian banking space, the future looks promising and Doshi is positive about the opportunities. "We have loan books. The beauty of having different product lines and entities is that we can cross-sell those as well. Bank-wise, it's an integral part of our offering to our clients," he states.

 

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