* Indian central bank grants NBAD banking licence - sources
* Plans regional hub in Mumbai, to open in H2 2014
* First UAE bank to get Indian bank licence since 1980
ABU DHABI, May 21 (Reuters) - National Bank of Abu Dhabi plans to set up a regional financial base in India before the end of this year as part of its overseas expansion strategy, two sources aware of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
The largest lender by market value in the United Arab Emirates is the first Emirati bank to be granted a banking licence in India since 1980. It joins two other UAE banks, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Dubai’s Mashreq in having operations in the country.
“NBAD has got approval from the Reserve Bank of India, opening the door for business there,” one of the sources said. The second source said the bank planned to set up operations in India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, in the second half of 2014.
An NBAD spokesman declined comment.
NBAD chief executive Alex Thursby identified Mumbai as one of the major cities to set up a banking hub in emerging markets, as part of the bank’s overseas expansion strategy, when he took over as the bank’s head in July last year.
The eight banking hubs will be in Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Lagos, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Paris and Washington DC.
Like other banks in the Gulf Arab nation, NBAD, which is nearly 70 percent-owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, is keen to expand overseas due to stiff competition in the local market.
Thursby warned last month that the bank’s profitability in coming quarters would be squeezed by fierce competition combined with global interest rate pressure, after the bank posted a flat year-on-year profit in the first quarter. (Reporting by Stanley Carvalho; Editing by Mark Potter)