Australia's biggest home lender, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, is planning acquisitions in India, its chief executive Ralph Norris disclosed yesterday.
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s Inside Business programme, Norris said the bank already has a number of initiatives underway in parts of Asia, including a significant expansion programme in Indonesia, and new banking licenses in Vietnam and India, and wants to look at any acquisitions that could strengthen the business.
''The bank is already undertaking a pretty significant expansion programme,'' Norris said, adding that the aim is to diversify its portfolio within a range that did not move too far away from its existing businesses.
"We opened our 61st branch in Indonesia last week and we'll open another 15 branches in Indonesia before the year is out ... we've just recently received our banking license for India and last year our banking license in Vietnam, and so we have had a number of organic initiatives underway in parts of Asia, so we're wanting to look at any acquisitions that maker sense and strengthen our business," he said.
Norris, however, said that any purchases would need to be "at the right price."
Turning to Commonwealth Bank's core Australian business, Norris noted that the bank has not yet seen the full impact of the slowing economy.
"We're obviously expecting unemployment to run higher and, as a result of that, that would lead to more bad debts in the housing book, personal loans, credit cards and that type of lending," Norris said.