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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

10 PSU banks merged into 4 to reform sector

Currently, there are 18 public sector lenders, compared to 27 in 2017. There will be only 12 after the mergers.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2019 23:39 IST
Shreya Nandi
Shreya Nandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A week after announcing a raft of measures to boost economic growth and improve investor sentiment, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced consolidation of 10 state-run lenders into four bigger banks.
A week after announcing a raft of measures to boost economic growth and improve investor sentiment, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced consolidation of 10 state-run lenders into four bigger banks. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
         

A week after announcing a raft of measures to boost economic growth and improve investor sentiment, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced consolidation of 10 state-run lenders into four bigger banks.

Punjab National Bank (PNB), Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India will be brought together to form the second-largest state-run bank in the country, with a business of ~17.95 trillion (loans plus deposits) and will be at least 1.5 times that of PNB, Sitharaman said at a press conference. State Bank of India (SBI) is the country’s largest lender.

The second merger will be between Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank, which will make it the fourth-largest public sector lender, with ~15.2 trillion in business. In the third, Union Bank of India will be merged with Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank to build India’s fifth-largest public sector bank (PSB) with ~14.59 trillion in business. Indian Bank will be merged with Allahabad Bank to make India’s seventh-largest PSB with a business of ~8.08 trillion.

Currently, there are 18 public sector lenders, compared to 27 in 2017. There will be only 12 after the mergers.

“So, 12 solidly present, well consolidated, energized, adequately capital-endowed banks will now operate to target $5 trillion economy and give the necessary support for banking facilities required by our customers,” Sitharaman said, adding that the proposed mergers will not cause any disruption, similar to what had happened in the case of Bank of Baroda’s merger with Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank.

The decision is in line with the NDA government’s push for consolidation of state-run banks, which it believes will not only lead to economies of scale, but also make lenders stronger, more competitive and improve their risk-taking appetite. Bigger, fewer and healthier banks will be in a better position to finance new projects and support the government’s aim of making India a $5 trillion economy by 2024.

In April, Bank of Baroda became the country’s third-largest lender after its merger with Dena and Vijaya Bank. In 2017, five associate banks and Bharatiya Mahila Bank were merged with SBI. “We made sure that the technology, which is used in the banks, is compatible and all banks can enable quick realisations of gains, without any disruption in service,” she said.

The minister did not mention any timeline for the realisation of the mergers. Finance secretary Rajiv Kumar said the decision will be taken by the banks’ boards in the near future. The respective boards would come back to the finance ministry, which will consult the banking regulator. After the consultation, the scheme of amalgamation will be made and then a date will be decided in consultation with banks as per their wish, he said.

Sitharaman said four banks — Indian Overseas Bank (in south), UCO Bank (in east), Bank of Maharashtra (in east) and Punjab and Sind Bank (in north, particularly in Punjab)—will continue to have a strong regional presence.

The government will also infuse as much as ~55,250 crore this fiscal in 10 public sector lenders — PNB, Indian Overseas Bank, Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda, Indian Bank, Union Bank of India, Central Bank of India, UCO Bank, United Bank of India and Punjab and Sind Bank.

“Consolidation is not being enabled through them (infusion of capital), but it is growth-driven,” she said.

Atul Pandey, partner at Khaitan and Co, said: “It is expected that the merger will enable the banks to have a much larger capital base and will also enable them to scale up their operations and increase market penetration. However, such merger of financial institutions will also involve numerous procedural complexities.”

(Gireesh Chandra Prasad contributed to this story)