18th March 2006: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has approved the Cosmos Co-operative Bank’s proposal to acquire three co-operative banks. Cosmos Bank Managing Director Shashikant Bugde said that the approval is to acquire Co-operative Bank of Ahmedabad, Unnati Co-operative Bank (both based in Gujarat) and Annapoorna Mahila Cooperative Bank of Secunderabad (Andhra Pradesh). The acquisitions are expected to add 25 branches to the bank’s existing network.
Bugde said, “We are entering Ahmedabad and Baroda for the first time. Out of the 16 branches of the Co-operative Bank of Ahmedabad in the city, we are planning to shift one branch each to Wapi and Rajkot. This will help Cosmos cover the entire state. The application for this will be filed with the RBI soon. The acquisition of Annapoorna marks our Andhra foray.”
Cosmos Bank Chairman Mukund Abhyankar said there were no doubts over meeting the acquisition cost as far as the Unnati Bank is concerned as it is a profit making concern. The Co-operative Bank of Ahmedabad and Annapoorna Bank, however, has a negative balance of Rs 20 crore and Rs 20 lakh, respectively. “The Cooperative Bank of Ahmedabad has outstanding debt worth Rs 74 crore. Recovery of even a half of this amount would enable us to make good the cost of acquisition,” Abhyankar said.
The bank has also received clearance from the RBI for opening offsite ATM centres. “These ATMs would be installed at locations such as shopping malls. We have sought approval to set up five such offshore ATMs in Pune and Mumbai. Soon we would also be rolling out a mobile ATM, which will mainly cater to the rural market,” Abhyankar said. For providing back-up to its ATM system, Cosmos Bank has signed up Electra Card Solutions, a fully owned subsidiary of Opus Software Solutions.
“The bank will replace its existing base 24 switch with Electra EFT switch to drive its ATM network. The switch will help customers to access ATM of ten other banks from 40 select ATM centres of Cosmos. The bank is Electra’s 100th customer,” said Ramesh Mengawade, chairman, Electra Card Services.
“We may rent out the Electra switch to six other banks. The RBI is coming up with a concept of the National Financial Switch in June this year. After that around 17,000 ATMs will be available for Cosmos Bank customers,” Abhyankar said.