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Thursday, May 11, 2006

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HSBC to grow SME exposure by 30 pc

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Survey shows Indian cos most optimistic among peers worldwide

CUSTOMISED PRODUCTS: Mr Subir Mehra, Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC India, at a press conference in Mumbai on Wednesday. - Shashi Ashiwal

Mumbai , May 10

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) in India expects lending to the SME sector to grow by 30 per cent in the current year.

The bank, which started offering specially designed products to Indian SME customers last year, has over 3,000 accounts in this segment, Mr Subir Mehra, Head - Commercial Banking, HSBC India, said at the release of a survey report on the SME sector on Wednesday.

"Considering India has over 12 million registered SSI units, the bank's share in this segment is currently negligible, but we expect a growth of 30 per cent," he said.

Responding to a question, Mr Mehra said the bank's rate of interest has gone up by 100-150 basis points in the last six months. Mr Mehra was talking to reporters at the release of a survey report on SME sector.

Gone are the days when Indian SMEs were brooding over low-priced imports threatening their future. Today, they are the most optimistic among their peers the world over, according to a survey conducted by HSBC among 4,000 businesses in 18 countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the US.

Indian SMEs are the most optimistic about the economic outlook, the survey said. It also showed that SME business in the Asia-Pacific region has high level of international business.

In India, 88 per cent of SMEs (with an annual turnover of below Rs 50 crore) and 98 per cent of MMEs (middle-market enterprises with a turnover of between Rs 50 crore and Rs 300 crore) surveyed, said the economic situation is currently "very good" and they think the outlook for the next 12 months is "better."

In India, 139 SMEs and 110 MMEs were contacted for the survey, said Mr Subir Mehra. Companies in India were more positive in their outlook compared to those in neighbouring China.

The Asia-Pacific outlook for 2006 was the brightest of the three regions surveyed. Companies in the Asia-Pacific region were more optimistic about their economic prospects than their counterparts in Europe and US.

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