LENDING & CREDIT | Cesar Tordesillas, India

ICICI Bank cautious about lending

ICICI Bank has become picky about lending to power and infrastructure projects, stopped motorcycle loans and has stopped offering new credit cards.

With its once-sickly loan portfolio on the mend after several years of consolidation that saw it lose market share,  ICICI is looking once again to grow faster than the industry, though more cautiously this time around.

"Growth for the sake of growth can get into asset quality problems," said N.S. Kannan, executive director and chief financial officer at India's largest private sector bank, with assets of $93 billion.

ICICI aims to grow its domestic loans by around a fifth this fiscal year, led by consumer loans and working capital, and will be especially cautious with project finance, Kannan said. In the last fiscal year, ICICI pared back overall loan growth to 17 from its initial target of 20 percent.

"For retail unsecured loans we have clearly tightened the filters. We are very careful in project finance and in identifying the projects that are worthy of financing," said Kannan, who assumed his role in 2009 when Chanda Kochhar was promoted to CEO.

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