Doha Brokerage & Financial Services Limited (DBFS), the Indian subsidiary of Qatar-headquartered Doha Bank, is set to launch its non-banking financial company (NBFC) in India. The NBFC, which will be called DBFS Finance, has also started talks with few overseas institutions to sell up to a 36% stake.  It has already sold a 12% stake to NRI businessman Yusuf Ali of Emke Group, DBFS Managing Director Prince George told VCCircle. Emke Group is a Gulf-based retail and leisure conglomerate operating under the flagship brand Lulu.

"We are open to both domestic and overseas investors," said George, adding that they were looking at investors who have domain knowledge. The NBFC, which will be a subsidiary of DBFS, will be rolled out in next six months. DBFS, which was earlier known as Select Securities, plans to ultimately get into asset management services through this unit. It already offers brokerage services.

Doha Bank took a 49% stake in Kochi-based Select Securities two years ago and re-branded it subsequently. Doha Bank has the right to increase its shareholding to 75% and will do it once the regulatory clearances fall in place.

Doha Bank's expanding activities comes at a time when Qatar along with Abu Dhabi is vying to be the alternative financial hub in the region, as neighboring Dubai is now roiled in $100 billion debt crisis. Several global financial institutions - like Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and Barclays - have used the NBFC route to enter the Indian financial services market. But few, if any, financial services firms from the Middle East have taken this approach till date.

DBFS has operations in areas like brokerage, commodities, and derivatives with memberships in in NSE, CSE and NCDEX. It is also a member in Dubai Gold and Commodity Exchange (DGCX) for commodity broking through Select Commodities DMCC.

DBFS' foray into the retail loan market, that too in the southern markets initially, will pitch it against powerful local competitors such as Muthoot Fincorp and Manappuram who have increasingly expanded outside their home turf Kerala.

DBFS has a established a strong branch network in southern states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. It also has a nominal presence in states like Maharashtra and Gujarat. The company plans to strengthen its presence in south by increasing branches from current 175 to 300 in the next one year, George said.

With Doha Bank playing a more active role, DBFS is now focused on institutional clients by leveraging its parents relationships. And it has expanded in the Gulf with offices in Bahrain, Doha and Dubai.

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