Itaú Unibanco Eyes Expansion into India’s Banking Sector

Preliminary talks in New Delhi signal Itaú’s interest in India, amidst strategic trade relations and regulatory considerations.
Itaú Unibanco Eyes Expansion Into India's Banking Sector
Itau Unibanco Eyes Expansion Into India Banking Sector

Itaú Unibanco Holding SA is exploring entry into India’s banking market, with discussions in New Delhi covering retail, wholesale, and asset management sectors. Despite needing Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approval, which might require reciprocal banking arrangements with Brazil, Itaú’s move comes as Brazil-India trade relations strengthen, positioning India as Brazil’s fifth-largest trading partner.

Itaú’s plans contrast with the competitive landscape of India’s banking industry, where 45 foreign banks operate, primarily through branches. The environment challenges new entrants to differentiate themselves significantly from local banks. Yet, Itaú’s global stature as Latin America’s largest bank, with assets growing 18.4% to $439.50 billion in 2022, and a presence in 18 countries, underscores its potential impact.

Trade finance emerges as a key opportunity for Itaú, with India-Brazil bilateral trade reaching $15.2 billion in 2022. GIFT City is under consideration for Itaú’s initial foray, reflecting the Indian government’s push to attract foreign banks and multinational corporations to this emerging financial hub. The initiative aligns with increasing global integration and the demand for sophisticated trade finance services, offering Itaú a strategic entry point into the vast Indian market.

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