Severin Cabannes, deputy chief executive officer of Societe Generale, a leading European financial services group, was in India recently. In an interview to TOI, Cabannes talks about the opportunities in the renewables sector and smart cities. Excerpts:
What is your strategy for India?
We have been in India since the past 40 years, and we are looking forward to expanding our business here. The relationship between India and France is close and growing, and for French entities and banks like us, it’s a unique opportunity in terms of timing. Our vision is to develop our corporate investment bank activities through serving our Indian clients in their developments outside of India and supporting our international clients for their development in India. We want to be a connecting partner between our international clients and Indian clients.
What are your views about the Indian economy?
The reforms you are mentioning, for example, GST is still progressing. It’s not something that can be implemented instantly. It’s probably the most important and efficient decision that has been made. For an enterprise like us, who are present in different states in India, the faith of a unified market is an absolute necessity.
How do you view demonetisation?
The underlying intention of demonetisation was very powerful. The way to achieve the target was not necessarily the only way to get there. Today the 1st impact I see due to implementation of demonetization is the increase in banking deposits, which gave to the banks very cheap resources, which is very positive, which also gave people an additional competitive advantage for the economy with cheaper bank financing.
The banking sector in India has witnessed some large cases of fraud in recent times? What are your views on this?
I have always been saying the banking regulations in India have always been very strong. We have very good relationships with our supervisors. The question for me in India is the level of non-performing assets. But it is not specific to India; it’s an issue across countries, including some European countries.