Tata, Ambani, Birla in race for bank licence

Mumbai: Tata Sons, India's biggest business group, and firms controlled by billionaires Anil Ambani and Kumar Mangalam Birla are among the 26 companies that have applied for a licence to open banks.
Ambani's Reliance Capital has applied for a banking licence along with Japan's biggest life insurer Nippon Life Insurance Co and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc.
Former Citigroup Inc chief executive Vikram Pandit has teamed up with JM Financial Ltd.
Among public sector entities, India Post and IFCI also submitted applications for bank licence while micro finance institutions like Bandhan Financial Services, Janalakshmi Financial Services too expressed their intention to set up a bank.
"The Reserve Bank of India in all received 26 applications," the central bank said after the deadline for applying for a bank licence expired today.
The RBI had issued guidelines for 'Licensing of New Banks in the Private Sector' on February 22 and came out with clarifications in the first week of June.
It is, however, not yet clear how many new bank licences will be issued.
RBI Governor D Subbarao had earlier said that "our effort will be to make that judgement as transparent as objective as contestable as possible…I want to say that not everybody who is fit and proper will be given a (bank) licence because we expect the number of eligible applicants will be much larger than what is meaningful number of licences we can give".
In its clarification, the RBI had said the entities getting licences to open new banks will be given 18 months to open branches, and promoters would have to transfer their holdings to the non-operative financial holding company (NOFHC) in a stipulated period.