SBI Chairman gets one-year extension

Arundhati Bhattacharya

Arundhati Bhattacharya  

The government extended the term of Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairman, State Bank of India (SBI) by a year, which will enable her to bring down the bank’s bad loans and help complete the merger process of the bank’s five subsidiaries and Bharatiya Mahila Bank.

Ms. Bhattacharya, 60, was appointed on October 7, 2013, for 3 years. The government has issued a notification extending her tenure.

“I am grateful to the government for giving me some more time to take forward the initiatives that I have taken,” Ms. Bhattacharya said. She had earlier said she wanted to complete the merger process in the current financial year.

The merger of State Banks of Bikaner & Jaipur (SBBJ), Travancore (SBT), Patiala (SBP), Hyderabad (SBH) and Mysore (SBM), and also of the Bhartiya Mahila Bank, a bank for women set up in November 2013, will add Rs.8 lakh crore, or $120 billion, to its assets and will create a banking behemoth with global scale. With this merger, SBI aims to be in the list of top 50 large global banks.

The board of SBI had cleared the merger plan and had finalised the share swap agreement.

Bank’s health

Apart from completing the merger process, restoring the health of the bank is another priority for the Chairman.

Gross non-performing assets of SBI have almost doubled in one year and reached a record level of Rs.1.01 lakh crore as on June 30, 2016 as compared with Rs.56,421 crore a year ago. In term of percentage of gross advances, it was 6.94 per cent as compared with 4.29 per cent a year earlier. Its net NPA was Rs.57,421 crore (4.05%), as compared with Rs.28,669 crore (2.24%), as on June 30, 2015.

SBI, though, has maintained a healthy provision coverage ratio of 62 per cent.

All public sector banks and a few large private sector banks have seen a sharp rise in non-performing assets in the last three quarters due to the asset quality review of Reserve Bank of India (RBI). But SBI’s health is seen as being better than that of other public sector banks.

SBI had put out a watch list of loans, or accounts that could potentially become NPAs, of Rs.30,000 crore, which is smaller than its peers’.

Ms. Bhattacharya had earlier said in an interview that NPA cycle would turn from the second half of this financial year, and the headline numbers would start declining.

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