Interest rates are expected to soften in the days to come, according to the Chairman and Managing Director of Corporation Bank, Ajai Kumar.
He told presspersons here on Saturday that interest rates had already softened and the market had been looking up. “I think the worst is over,” he said. The bank was looking at 20 per cent growth in business this year.
The bank had 18 retail hubs across the country. It rolled out eight SME (Small and Medium-scale Enterprises) loan centres, including one in Coimbatore on Saturday, and planned to open eight more in two months. It had 1,500 branches. However, most of the branches were in the south. The bank was looking at increasing its network, especially in States such as Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. It has opened 12 zonal offices, mainly in Rajasthan, Bihar, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal and was expanding its network through these. Expanding the network would help in business growth and also in improve the current account savings account (CASA) ratio. The bank planned to open 300 branches this financial year.
When interest rates went up, several big projects were put on hold and hence corporate lending had not grown much. One of the sectors that the bank was focusing now was SMEs. Just 5 per cent of the sector's financing needs were met by the banking sector and hence the potential was huge for this segment. The bank planned to have SME counselling centres at its SME loan centres. The bank's exposure to the SME sector had doubled in the last two years, he said.