THE boss of a leading Indian bank has described Britain’s “warmth” and “hand-holding” as “critical” in helping the firm set up its first headquarters in London. The first overseas subsidiary of Union Bank of India UK was inaugurated last Friday (13) by India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley. Arun Tiwari, global chairman and managing director of Union Bank of India, and the bank’s board of directors told EE that while other Indian banks had already set their foot in the country decades ago, for Union Bank it was better late than never. “We don’t see London as a place just to do business. It is a gateway to global financial servicea. If you talk about other banks, some of the banks from India have been here 50-60 years. For Union Bank of India, our first overseas foray is as early as 2007. Britain came a little late but sooner than later.” The bank, which has a strong presence in India with 4,000 branches, 6,700 ATMs and an asset base of $59 billion (£39m), expects to start lending up £150m to businesses in its first year. It has branches in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi and Sydney. Tiwari said the bank wanted to ensure that they had what was required before setting up the British banking subsidiary in London. “We are in a serious business with somebody else’s money. So trust is the core. We just took our time to understand what is expected for everything.” Tiwari said the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) helped the 95-year-old bank settle in Britain and gave advice about who they could contact regarding their advisory services. “More than the word ‘welcome’, it’s the warmth that we felt. There has been a kind of hand-holding in the period of time, which creates the ease of doing business. That is what is critical. “The Indian diaspora is the largest by number in Britain, and within the G20 the UK is the largest investor in India – vice versa it is equally true, India is the biggest investor here. It’s a 400-year thriving relationship.” Union Bank of India will undertake retail and wholesale banking with focus on current, savings, fixed term deposits and remittances in the retail banking space. In wholesale banking, the focus will be on syndicated loans, external commercial borrowings, SMEs, trade finance facilities and current accounts. “Whatever is expected of localised bank we will offer. As a new entity it would be our endeavour that our basic infrastructure is in place, so customer service is not impacted negatively. We are already in process of rolling internet banking with a debit card. “Globally we have seen the SME sector is the one driver in different economies. That’s one of our focus areas. When we’re talking about SME, we’re talking about small local businesses.” He added there were great examples of Indian companies investing in Britain and vice versa. “Look at the Tatas. There are also some unknown companies but I know Amtek, who are in auto auxiliary and have one of the finest plants in Britain. When this Indian company comes into Britain, they come with one mission, doing the business the right way. “What runs through our DNA is not to be on the wrong side of the law when doing business. When we deal with somebody else’s money, it’s a matter of trust,” Tiwari said.