Church still eyeing Syrian Bank takeover

By UCAN Reporter, Kochi

The Church has not abandoned efforts to gain control over Catholic Syrian Bank (CSB), which it initiated some 90 years ago, says a senior bishop.

Financial newspapers and a national news agency earlier this week said the Church had shelved its 20 year bid to take over the bank.

Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur, the newly elected president of Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, told ucanews.com today that “vested interest” planted the report.

The bank is controlled by a C. S. Chawla, a Hong Kong-based Indian businessman.

The news was published “to torpedo the Church bid which is gathering momentum. We have not given up the bid and our community is trying its best to take back the control,” the archbishop told ucanews.com.

Some 30 Catholic families, backed by the Church, set up the bank in Thrissur in November 1920 to support Christian businesses in the city.

In February, the archdiocese of Thrissur announced a bid to raise 2,500 million rupees (US$ 56 million) to buy a majority equity stake in the bank. Reports, however, say the Catholics together own less than 10 percent of the shares.

The diocese also set up the CSB protection committee with the cooperation of the Catholic shareholders of the bank.

CSB protection committee general convener Johny Chandy told ucanews.com that the takeover bid would continue.

“All these months we are working very hard to raise money. So why should we drop our move?” Chandy who is based in Thrissur asked ucanews.com.

The Church initiated the takeover bid when Reserve Bank of India directed Chawla to dilute his equity stake from 24 percent to 10 percent. The church was planning to buy 14 percent of shares.

But a senior bureaucrat, who works with the banking industry, told ucanews.com that raising 2,500 million rupees or “probably more is not an easy task for Church.”

He expressed doubts about the Church’s success in the bid noting that the Church people and their advisers do not have adequate knowledge of shares and bank businesses.

Reacting to that criticism, Chandy expressed confidence in the Church move. “Just wait and see,” he said.

UCAN

UCAN

UCA News reports about the Catholic Church and subjects of interest to the Church in Asia. Through a daily service, UCA News covers lay activities, social work, protests, conflicts and stories on the faith lives of the millions of Catholics in Asia.

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