South African lender FirstRand Bank, which started operations in India in 2009, is reportedly building a base to start a wholly owned subsidiary in the country.

FirstRand Bank India CEO and country manager Rohit Wahi in an interview to Livemint said: "We are here to build a lifetime business, but we are very young. We want to participate and do everything that we can do here. I think the eventual route will be a subsidiary; the question is when not whether."

"Regulations don’t allow us to buy any bank now; so, if we have to grow, we will have to become a subsidiary. To put a time frame is difficult, but for the next 12 months, we are staying a branch," the publication quoted him as saying.

Wahi said that the lender is already working on its technology offering, and does not plan launch of multiple branches in the country.

"It has to be more electronic. Sometimes it’s an advantage that we don’t have a lot of branches, so we also have to choose the right places where we open more branches," Wahi remarked.

Wahi added that instead of banking large multi-banked SMEs, FirstRand will now concentrate on clients with a turnover of INR1bn-6bn.

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FirstRand has sole branch in Mumbai for corporate and SME lending.