1988: Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) representative office opened in Mumbai (then Bombay).
1990: Istituto Bancario San Paolo (IBSP) representative office opened in Mumbai (then Bombay).
After India gained its independence from Britain in 1947, Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) made its first ventures into the country with Leo Valiani acting as its emissary. In the early months of 1953 Valiani met with India's Economic Minister in Calcutta in an attempt to seek out business opportunities for Italian companies such as Necchi, Cirio and Recordati; he also traveled to Ceylon in February of the same year for a bank guarantee on behalf of the Bank of Ceylon. However, the time was not yet ripe for establishing a stable presence in India; in part due to the strong British presence in India, BCI decided to focus its attentions on South America instead.
In the 1960s IMI signed its first cooperation agreements with the Indian government vis-à-vis the export of Italian-manufactured goods.
Only in the 1980s did India attempt to revitalize its economy through a series of reforms. It was against this backdrop that BCI's Board of Directors gave its assent in 1985 to the creation of a representative office in Mumbai (then Bombay); however, due to red tape the office was opened only three years later, in 1988. Rather than establishing a presence in India's administrative capital, New Delhi, BCI chose to do so in what had by then become an international financial and economic center, home to the stock exchange and India's main gateway to the West: Mumbai (then Bombay).
The representative office was in charge of managing relations not only with India but also Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Its main responsibilities were to foster relations between these countries and Italy, to assist Italian companies in their business with them and to expand the network of correspondent banks scattered throughout the country's vast, diverse territory.
Istituto Bancario San Paolo also took steps to enter the Indian market, signing a cooperation agreement with the Hambros Group in 1987. Later, in order to consolidate its activities in the country, the bank decided to establish a representative office in Mumbai (then Bombay); it was opened in 1990.
Banco Ambrosiano Veneto, too, set up a consultancy office in the same city. It was later transferred to Banca Intesa, which continued to maintain an operational presence in India over the years.