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BW Businessworld

Confident Of Getting Bank License: Birla

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Chairman of Aditya Birla group Kumar Mangalam Birla on 28 June said that he was confident of getting banking license from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). "We have applied to RBI for banking license. We are confident of getting it," Birla told reporters on the sidelines of an event in the east Indian city of Kolkata.
He said that license has been sought through Aditya Birla Nuvo, the company which controls the financial services business of the group.
Asked about organised retail, he said that it was a much tougher business than what was thought of. "Since we have already got into the business, we will have to make a success of it," he said. Birla said that margins in the organised retail business were thin due to poor supply chain logistics. The group runs retail stores 
under the brand name 'More'.
About FDI in multi-brand retail, Birla said that the regulations were complex and foreign retailers would find it hard to navigate. Birla said that the existence of local kirana stores would not be under threat due to FDI in multi-brand retail.
About the spectrum issue, he said "it will always remain contentious. I hope Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will resolve the issue."  Birla said that there were lot of regulatory issues in the telecom business. "Regulation comes in the way of growth. Mobile telephony is what the country badly needs." 
'Policy Uncertainty'
The industry is within its rights to speak about policy uncertainty, Birla said while demanding that government create a more enabling environment to spur growth 
and boost investments. "There is policy uncertainty. There is no denying the fact and the Indian industry is well within its rights to speak about that and the industry has correctly pointed out," he said.
Birla, who inherited the mantle after the untimely demise of his father Aditya Birla in 1995 at the age of 28, said that India still needed to create an enabling environment for corporate entities to set up projects hassle-free. Drawing an example, Birla said that his experience in Brazil was exemplary as his group has been able to commission a greenfield project within a record time of two years. "The government should create an enabling environment. It is not a case of 'not India vs outside India'. We are also investing in India. The government should give a free hand," Birla said.
"However, I still feel that all is not lost. I am optimistic about the future," Birla said. Speaking about the recent discovery of shale gas in the US, Birla said: "It is truly an inflexion point for the country."  Energy prices would come down in the US because of this, Birla said. "Manufacturing activity there will become more cost effective as compared to India. We will be happy to do some greenfield project there when a good opportunity comes," he said. "There is no specific sector which we have identified now," Birla said in reply to a query.
At present, the group's $4 billion activity in US has been spurred by acquisitions. Birla also said that coalition politics was not bad politics, but it would have to be accompanied by good governance. The group has interests in cement, aluminium, fertilisers, textiles, telecom, retail and financial services.