The Hindujas have taken off the veil over their mid-sized Amas Bank in Switzerland by renaming it as "Hinduja Bank", in what its chief executive described as a bold move to expand its activities in trade finance, wealth management and investment banking.
Amas bank was created as a finance company in Geneva in 1978 and gradually expanded its activities in other Swiss cities -- Zurich, Lucerne, and Basle -- through acquisitions.
"Hinduja Bank combines the solid traditions of Swiss banking with excellent links to the growing economies of South Asia and the Middle East," Ivan Schouker, the chief executive, told Business Standard
Just at a time when several western banks are in doldrums due to huge losses suffered in the current global financial crisis, "we felt it is an opportune time to expand our activities in a range of banking activities, especially trade finance," said Ivan Schouker.
"The bank already has Indian investors in its wealth management scheme but we have more European clients in this area," he said in response to a question on the size of the Indian presence in wealth management.
With the Swiss government having decided to relax its banking secrecy laws, there would be pressure on the bank to reveal the identity of clients opting for its wealth management services. "We have received a positive feedback from India and we have a strategic partnership with IndusInd Bank," said Ivan Schouker, suggesting that the name Hinduja Bank would not create any image problem in India.
Since the late 80s, the Hindujas were often identified with the infamous Bofors scandal, which was largely fought in the Swiss courts and with the Swiss government. Though Hindujas faced strictures from the Indian courts, their Indian activities did not nosedive due to legal and image problems, analysts said.