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SBI's new chief says top priority to maintain loan book quality

FILE PHOTO: A man checks his mobile phones in front of State Bank of India (SBI) branch in Kolkata, India, February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India’s largest lender, State Bank of India’s newly appointed chairman said that his focus areas as he takes over will be maintaining the quality of the loan book while ensuring that provisioning requirements are met.

At a time when the Indian banking system is hamstrung by the pandemic, SBI is witnessing credit growth of around 6-7% while business is “70-80% back to pre COVID-19 levels,” for the bank, Dinesh Kumar Khara, Chairman, SBI said in a press briefing after taking over the reins on Wednesday.

Before taking over as chairman, Khara was a managing director at the bank and was responsible for overseeing global markets and subsidiaries of SBI.

Khara has been appointed as chairman for a three-year term.

Though concerns for SBI in certain segments remain due to the economic disruption caused by the pandemic, overall the stress in loan books is not a cause of worry yet, added Khara.

The new chief has also ruled out any immediate plans to monetize its subsidiaries in the near term as the market remains subdued.

SBI is also “very seriously” evaluating options to enter the country’s digital payments ecosystem as a primary stakeholder. The lender along with other stakeholders may apply to the central bank for a licence to set up a payments company for operating digital payments networks across the country.

Reporting by Nupur Anand; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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