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Top priority remains resolution of stressed assets: Incoming SBI Chief

It will be my responsibility to carry forward the work done by Arundhati Bhattacharya, said newly appointed State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman, Rajnish Kumar in an interview to CNBC-TV18.

October 04, 2017 / 05:30 PM IST

It will be my responsibility to carry forward the work done by Arundhati Bhattacharya, said newly appointed State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman, Rajnish Kumar in an interview to CNBC-TV18.

Kumar will take over as SBI Chairman on October 7th.

Top priority remains resolution of stressed assets and restoring credit growth, which is currenlty muted, said Kumar, adding that improving asset quality, adoption of new technology and digitisation are also at the top of my mind.

Below is the verbatim transcript of the interview.

Kritika: When do you take over and what is your sense when you found out the news?

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A: This is a big responsibility which I accept with all humility. Mrs Arundhati Bhattacharya is there till October 6, so from October 7 I will be taking over.

Kritika: How different will this new responsibility be? How seamless will that transition be?

A: Transition is expected to be seamless in the sense that I have been part of the team and working with Mrs Bhattacharya for the last 27-28 months and any organisation is always a work in progress. So many things which our previous chairman has initiated, it will be my responsibility to carry them forward and similarly whatever I initiate, I will leave something for my successors in due course.

Ritu: Has it come as a surprise to you or were you expecting this?

A: No, there is no question of any surprise or surety, there is a selection process and till the date the notification has been issued, there is always some news here and there going on but I won't say that it is either a surprise or it is something which I felt that I will be through. So you have to just wait for the outcome. When you give the interview, you have done your job and after that whatever the banking board's bureau recommendations or government's process is, we have to leave it to there.

Kritika: When did you know of the news? When were you informed officially?

A: Just now.

Ritu: When Arundhati Bhattacharya took over as Chairperson, she outlined five point agenda whether it was digitisation...

A: You have to give me some time.

Ritu: Of course you can formulate your own strategy but on those five parameters that she had outlined whether it was digitisation, whether it was cleanup of non-performing assets, growth. On all of those fronts a lot has been achieved in the last few years but what are some of the areas where you think when you take over at the helm of SBI you will have to continue work and a lot needs to be done to fulfil some of those five criteria that she listed out at the start of her tenure?

A: As I said any organisation, like State Bank of India, it is always a work in progress and that is what it is but if you want my specific response you will have to wait for some time.

Ritu: What would be the first priority as you take over? You are done with the merger which you said was a very painful process. Now you are in the midst of non-performing loans (NPL) cleanup. So what will be the first priority for you as you take charge of State Bank of India?

A: All of us know that these are challenging times for State Bank of India; these are challenging times for the banking industry as a whole, so definitely asset quality is a challenge. So that will definitely receive priority. We are undergoing a major transformation in terms of adoption of new technology and digitisation. So these two things are on the top of my mind but there are many other things and as I said give me some time to articulate my views.

Ritu: You have worked very closely with Mrs Bhattacharya as a Managing Director. You were also at SBICAPS and you have been at SBI for 30 years now. What are some of the learning that you will take forward as you start to helm this bank from when you started to?

A: It has been a great experience working with Mrs Bhattacharya and in last two-and-a-half years, I have learned many things and let me also tell you that it is very-very difficult to step into her shoes, they are too large.

Latha: What would be your top priority now?

A: Top priority is the resolution of stressed assets and the credit growth is very-very muted, so how do we restore that. These will be the first and the foremost priorities on my mind.
first published: Oct 4, 2017 05:30 pm
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