MUMBAI/ AHMEDABAD, 24th MAY, 2016: For India’s BFSI sector, the country’s first International Finance Centre (IFSC) located at GIFT City, Gujarat is proving to be an ideal location to base global operations. If one considers as a bench-mark the quantum of growth in terms of business activities at the country’s first IFSC, it has crossed the $250 million (Rs 1,700 crore) mark within six months since the first international banking unit being set up. Apart from banking and finance, the focus now will also include stock and commodity market operations.
The tax incentives given in the Union Budget have resulted in the IFSC becoming attractive for not just the BFSI sector looking at enhancing their global operations, but also the insurance segment, with media reports suggesting a few were all set to start operations soon.
The country’s first IFSC is on course for a formal inauguration during the next Vibrant Gujarat Summit, tentatively around end-2016. In sync with this, the first commercial building by the Mumbai-based Hiranandani Group, ‘Signature’, is also on course for fit-outs within the next few months. “Ideally located within the IFSC, ‘Signature’ is a unique commercial real estate offering,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, MD, Hiranandani Communities.
The IFSC, although located within India, offers the facility of acting like a ‘foreign operations office’, which helps facilitate easy movement of capital. “Financial Institutions will find it advantageous, as it helps service the foreign currency needs of your corporate clients by means of such a presence,” said Niranjan Hiranandani.
The IFSC has been conceived and conceptualized by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his tenure as chief minister of Gujarat. It is situated around 18 km from Ahmedabad near Gujarat’s capital city, Gandhinagar. ‘Signature’ will play a major role, by providing global infrastructure in a well-planned commercial complex to meet the requirements of Financial Institutions.
For the banking sector, the route-map is opening an IFSC Banking Unit (IBU) at the IFSC. Equivalent to a foreign branch and thereby facilitating a bank to function as such from within India, an IBU offers facilities such as buyers’ credit, external commercial borrowing, accepting deposits and providing credit facilities to wholly owned subsidiaries or joint ventures of Indian companies registered abroad. They may also undertake factoring/forfeiting of export receivables, treasury activities like foreign money market operations, investment in foreign securities, and transactions in derivatives and structured products.
At the IFSC, apart from the IBUs which have commenced operations – Yes Bank, Federal Bank, ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank; State Bank of India is expected to commence operations soon. Also expected to start operations in the near future are Punjab National Bank, Corporation Bank, IDBI Bank and IndusInd Bank.
“We have welcomed Kotak Mahindra Bank and other illustrious financial institutions, who have picked up space in ‘Signature’,” said Niranjan Hiranandani. “Kotak Mahindra Bank has opted to pick up a huge chunk of space, and I am glad to announce that this future-ready Commercial Complex is on track for timely possession in end-2016. Financial Institutions will find it advantageous to have their presence within the IFSC, as it will help them service foreign currency needs of their corporate clients,” he added.
Apart from the IBUs at IFSC which fall within the Special Economic Zone part of GIFT City, Bank of India recently started branch operations in the non-SEZ area. Syndicate Bank, Gujarat State Co-operative Bank and Janalakshmi Bank are among those already operational. “This definitely speaks the language of confidence in the IFSC,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, adding that he expected other players from India’s BFSI segment to opt for space in ‘Signature’, just like Kotak Mahindra Bank had.
So far, GIFT City’s phase-I development has seen allotment of 14 mnsqft of built-up area in the SEZ and non-SEZ areas for development of office towers, residential apartments and social facilities, to be developed at an estimated total investment of close to Rs 10,000 crore.
Under its phase-II development, a built-up area of 1.32 mnsqft will be developed by leading real estate companies, with total proposed investment of Rs 850 crore. ‘Signature’, by providing global infrastructure in a well-planned commercial complex to meet the requirements of Financial Institutions, “will play a major role by ensuring the first operational commercial building in the IFSC ready for fit-outs, well in time for the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Summit,” concluded Niranjan Hiranandani.
Niranjan Hiranandani is Founder & MD, Hiranandani Group; his recent initiative is Hiranandani Communities. He is the Founder and First President (West), National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO), which works under the aegis of Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India.