September 2, 2014
Insurance giants, banks eye Rajarhat Financial Hub
Public-sector insurance giant New IndiaAssurance (NIA) and re-insurance giant General Insurance Corporation (GIC) ofIndia have evinced interest in setting up offices at the financial hub at NewTown, Kolkata. Public-sector lenders such as Central Bank of India, Jammu &Kashmir Bank and Dena Bank are also weighing options to take part in theproposed financial cluster.
State Bank of India, which has already setup east India's first e-bank there, has also shown interest to buy more land atthe financial hub to establish its training centre.
Investors'meet in Mumbai
A top-level team, led by state urban developmentand municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim and chairman of West Bengal HousingInfrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) Debashis Sen is in Mumbai tohard-sell the New Town financial hub. Prior to the investors' meet atBandra-Kurla Complex which houses India's only international financial cluster,the HIDCO team along with IL&FS officials, met top honchos of insurancecompanies and banks.
At one such meet, NIA CMD G Srinivasanindicated at shifting its zonal operations from Kolkata's central businessdistrict to the New Town finance hub. The public-sector general insurer willput forward the issue of buying a plot in its board meet. GIC CMD Ashok KumarRoy has also taken interest in building its re-insurance facility at theproposed second cluster of the finance hub, which has 23 plots on offer.
“There is a great prospect in re-insurancesegment. If Bengal takes an initiative in this regard, we'll be happy to join.A joint workshop has been planned between GIC and HIDCO in the second week ofOctober to take this idea forward,” Roy reportedly told HIDCO officials.
WBGovt reaches out to investors
On the state government reaching out toinvestors, Firhad Hakim said: “This is a confidence-building exercise. It givesa feel-good factor. Answering directly to the prospective investors has somefuture impact. We hope to see it soon at New Town.”
Hakim and Sen will meet chairman of LifeInsurance Corporation of India on Wednesday. A meeting with the HDFC Bankchairman is also on the cards.
Replying to queries at the investors meet,which was organized by HIDCO in association with The Economic Times andtransaction partner IL&FS, Firhad Hakim said: “You come and feel thedifference. There is no problem of availability of land in Bengal.”
He assured investors of fast single-windowclearance for all the deals. Showing a 10-minute presentation on the prospectsof the “financial gateway to east India”, Mr Sen said: “A 38-acre land andplug-n-play units are ready. We have got representatives of as many as 23insurance firms, mutual funds and foreign banks at the meet today.”
In April last year, HIDCO receivedapplications from Union Bank of India, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and twoprivate financial institutions for space at the international financial hub inNew Town. In the first phase, six financial and banking institutes hadsubmitted applications of which UBI, UCO Bank, NIC, West Bengal FinancialCorporation and West Bengal Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation(WBIDFC) were selected. Allahabad Bank and SBI had already taken land near thehub.