India's largest private sector company, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), says it is likely to apply for a banking licence, as it meets all eligibility criteria announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday. The company had identified financial services as a key business, said a source privy to RIL's plans.
RBI's eligibility norms on new banking licences were clear and transparent, the source said, adding RIL's Rs 81,000-crore cash pile (as of December 2012) gave the company an edge, in terms of entering the banking sector.
"It is high on Mukesh Ambani's agenda," the source said.
RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani serves as a director on the board of Bank of America. Insiders expect RIL to bid for a banking licence, as it is backed by a powerful brand, as well as cash. In March 2011, RIL and DE Shaw had announced a joint venture to set up a financial services business in India. They are sill awaiting necessary regulatory approvals for starting the business.