Standard Chartered interested in buying Barclays Indian arm

Standard Chartered Bank India, a unit of British Standard Chartered Plc (LON:STAN), is leading a race to buy some INR25bn (USD438m/EUR351m) worth of retail operations of rival Barclays Plc (LON:BARC) in India, according to informed people cited today by the Economic Times.

An unnamed senior banker told the paper that Barclays is looking to exit the retail banking business and is selling its mortgage, personal loan and commercial banking assets, with some selected private and foreign banks looking at them.

Most foreign banks active in India have been facing pressure due to the economic decline derived from the credit crunch in 2008.

Barclays, which launched its consumer banking business in India in May 2007, was forced by non-performing loans to ease up on its expansion plans and reduce jobs in order to improve its performance in the country. The British bank cut 451 jobs in the year to March 2010, reducing its workforce in India to 1,083.

According to the Economic Times, Asia-focused Standard Chartered Bank wants to add Barclays’ Indian retail banking assets to its portfolio, after buying the rival’s credit card operations in December 2011.

An unnamed director of a consultancy firm which works with the two British banks told the paper that foreign banks in India had switched direction towards high-quality credit which produced increased income and stayed away from unsecured lending.

Standard Chartered Bank India has a portfolio including consumer, wholesale, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Islamic and private banking solutions.

The lender, former Chartered Bank, was founded in 1858 and is based in Mumbai.