THE PSB MEGA MERGER: AN OVERVIEW

On the 30th of August, 2019, Finance Minister (FM), Nirmala Sitharam announced the merger of 10 major public sector banks (PSBs) to reduce the number of players in the banking scenario from a whopping 27 to 12. This news comes in wake of the disappointing news that India faced a 5% GDP growth in the preceding quarter. It is expected that the merger will increase the CASA (Current to Savings Account Ratio) and enhance lending capacity. These reforms were deemed necessary to foster the idea of India becoming a $5 trillion economy. Illustrated below shall be the expected scenario if the mergers are proven successful:

Merger between

Rank (based on size)

Number of Branches

Total Business Size

(Rs in lakh crore)

Punjab National Bank (A), Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank – Merger I

2nd

11,437

17.95 (1.5 times of current)

Canara Bank (A) and Syndicate Bank – Merger II

4th

10,342

15.2 (1.5 times of current)

Union Bank of India (A), Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank – Merger III

5th

9,609

14.59 (2 times of current)

Indian Bank (A) and Allahabad Bank – Merger IV

7th

6,104

8.08 (2 times of current)

(A) Anchor Bank

It was also announced that Rs 55,250 crore of capital infusion will take place to ease credit growth and regulatory compliance. Now we’ll look at the capital infusion expected to take place to aid the mega mergers:

Bank

Recapitalization (Rs in crore)

Punjab National Bank

16,000

Union Bank

11,700

Bank of Baroda

7,000

Canara Bank

6,500

Indian Bank

2,500

Indian Overseas Bank

3,800

Central Bank

3,300

UCO Bank

2,100

United Bank of India

1,600

Punjab and Sind Bank

750

FM also announced multifarious administrative reforms to increase accountability and remove political intermediation. Bank management is made accountable as the board will now be responsible for evaluating the performance of General Manager and Managing Director. It is mandatory to train directors for their roles thus improving leadership in the PSBs. The role of the Non-Official Director is made synonymous to that of an independent director. In order to attract talent, banks have to pay competitive remuneration to Chief Risk Officers.

The banks were merged on three criteria – the CRR should be greater than 10.875%, the CET ratio should be above 7% (which is above the Basel norms) and the NPAs should be less than 6%. However, Syndicate and Canara bank have not been able to meet the criteria.

Post consolidation facts and figures:

  • Total Business Share
  • Ratios (all amounts in %)

MERGER – I

PNB

OBC

United Bank of India

Post-Merger

CASA Ratio

42.16

29.4

51.45

40.52

PCR

61.72

56.53

51.17

59.59

CET-I

6.21

9.86

10.14

7.46

CRAR Ratio

9.73

12.73

13

10.77

Net NPA Ratio

6.55

5.93

8.67

6.61

MERGER – II

Canara Bank

Syndicate Bank

Post-Merger

CASA Ratio

29.18

32.58

30.21

PCR

41.48

48.83

44.32

CET-I

8.31

9.31

8.62

CRAR Ratio

11.90

14.23

12.63

Net NPA Ratio

5.37

6.16

5.62

MERGERIII

Union Bank

Andhra Bank

Corporation Bank

Post-Merger

CASA Ratio

36.10

31.39

31.59

33.82

PCR

58.27

68.62

66.60

63.07

CET-I

8.02

8.43

10.39

8.63

CRAR Ratio

11.78

13.69

12.30

12.39

Net NPA Ratio

6.85

5.73

5.71

6.30

MERGER – IV

Indian Bank

Allahabad Bank

Post-Merger

CASA Ratio

34.75

49.49

41.65

PCR

49.13

74.15

66.21

CET-I

10.96

9.65

10.63

CRAR Ratio

13.21

12.51

12.89

Net NPA Ratio

3.75

5.22

4.39

Advantages:

  • Economies of scale.
  • Efficiency in operation.
  • Better NPA management.
  • High lending capacity of the newly formed entities.
  • Strong national presence and global reach.
  • Risk can be spread over and thus will be minimized.
  • Lower operational cost leading to lower cost of borrowing.
  • Increased customer base, organic growth of market share and business quantum.
  • Banking practices reform announced to boost accountability and professionalism.
  • Appointment of CRO (Chief Risk Officer) to enhance management effectiveness.
  • Centralized functioning promoting a central database of customers.

Disadvantages:

  • The slowdown witnessed by the economy coupled with the dangerously low demand in the automobile sector will maintain the existing situation pessimism.
  • The already existing exposure of NBFCs in the individual constituent banks will be magnified as the merged entities shall have more than 10% loan exposure to NBFCs and thus, in effect, the liquidity pressure that comes along with it.
  • As history dictates, the merger of these eminent banks will cause near-term problems with respect to restructuring, recapitalization, operation, flexibility and costs.
  • Near-term growth shall be hindered and core profitability may suffer.
  • Compliance becomes a huge barrier.
  • Difficult to merge human resources and their respective work cultures post-merger – this will in turn lead to low morale and inefficient workforce

Outlook:

The mergers were announced with a very noble idea in mind; however, the timing is a bit unfortunate. During these times of economic slowdown, India needs its bankers devoting their time to boost the economy. With the merger happening, the banks will be more pre-occupied with the integration process rather than enhancing the economic growth. Merely combining banks will not help enhance credit capacity, it is also important to see whether synergies in reality will be created (or if it is merely on paper).

The share of assets of the top three or four banks account for only 30%-32%. Thus, the banks still remain fragmented for a major part – systemic risk or contagion effect shall not be a problem as of now. Although this is the case, out of the four mergers not one of them can be said to be financially strong. This is a phenomenon of blind leading the blind; it cannot be expected that two financially weak banks can merge into one financially strong entity. “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”

This announcement comes at a time when even the results of the previous mergers (e.g. Bank of Baroda) have not yielded any fruit and the PSBs have recently jumped back from a long stress scenario. It seems as if there is no common theme in the mergers (i.e. retail, corporate or SME), no particular skill-set that has been emphasized upon. Rather, it was just assumed that all the banks fall under the same template and a haphazard combination was made – in such a case, there is a slim chance of synergy creation. Also, with no major theme in hand the multifarious objectives will confuse the banks with respect to the pressing matters at hand.

According to technical experts, it might take around three to four years to integrate the existing IT systems of the banks. Although all of the use the CBS, heavy customization is required, mobile apps need to be in sync, backend functions have to be centralized effectively.

As for the case of resolution of NPAs, it might actually become easier and faster. Earlier, the bankers had to talk to their counterparts, the approach the senior management to come to a resolution. Now, with these institutions merging and with lesser levels to report to, a solution plan can be implemented at the earliest with considerably less effort. Apart from this, now that the banks will have a common database and a larger network, they can increase the services offered at a higher level at lower costs – this might show an increment in the fees earned and in turn, the profitability. It is expected that the Anchor banks will be benefitted more from the mergers as the swap ratio will be in their favour.

Author
Chandreyee Sengupta
Team Member- Equity Research & Valuation
(MSc Finance, NMIMS Mumbai. Batch 2019-21)

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Is RLLR the long lost saviour?

Before we get into the topic lets know what repo rate is. It is the rate at which the central bank of a country (RBI) lends money to the commercial banks in event of any shortfall of funds.

Now people are excited about the new repo linked lending rate (RLLR) which has come into the market but let’s just roll back a few months back to December 2018. RBI in its fifth bi-monthly monetary policy review on December 5th made a big announcement (by N.S. Vishwanathan – Deputy Governor) that many bank customers were waiting for and that retailed loans will be linked to external benchmarks instead of various internal benchmarks produced by banks.RBI had instructed the banks to start the process the linking the new repo rates from 1st April 2019.

By adopting a single benchmark, the home loans for example which are linked to the marginal cost of funds will now be linked to the repo rates. This makes the banks bound to revise the rates of the home loans instantly as and when there is a change in the RBI repo rate. These changes are welcomed by the customers because it has been long sought out as RBI reduced the repo rates to control the inflation but the benefit never reaches the consumers but now because of this, the consumers will get the benefit of at least some lower interest rate to be paid. The benefit of Repo-rate linked home loan scheme is that it is transparent compared to existing loans linked to marginal-cost-of-fund based lending rate (MCLR). The interest rates on loans will change upwards or downwards in line with the movement of the repo rate announced by RBI.

The RBI had stated that banks should benchmark the rates to either the RBI policy repo rate or Government of India’s 91 or 182 days Treasury bill yields as developed by the Financial Benchmarks India Private Ltd (FBIL) or any other external benchmark developed by the FBIL but still several banks opposed the decision of linking lending rates to an external benchmark, indicating that their cost of funds was not linked to those external benchmarks and delayed the implementation indefinitely.

By March 2019 the only bank to realize this directive was SBI, the largest public sector bank but it too took some time and made it effective from July 2019. Following the same footsteps, Bank of Baroda too introduced RLLR home loan scheme from 12th August 2019 and Syndicate Bank. Allahabad Bank, Canara Bank & Union Bank of India and other banks will announce their plans to launch RLLR soon.

To be eligible for the SBI repo rate linked home loan scheme, the borrower should have a minimum annual income of Rs 6 lakhs and tenure of the loan is up to 33 years. In the case of under-construction projects, the maximum moratorium period up to two years is offered over and above maximum loan tenor of 33 years. So, in such cases, the total loan tenure cannot exceed 35 years.

In this home loan scheme, the borrower needs to repay a minimum of 3 per cent of the principal loan amount every year in equated monthly instalments. If you take a home loan of Rs 50 lakhs, you need to repay a minimum of Rs 1.50 lakhs as principal plus the interest cost every year.

The interest rates in this scheme are not directly linked with the repo rate figure announced by the RBI. The interest on the loan is 2.25% points more than the repo rate. On July 1, the repo rate was 5.75 per cent, so the repo-linked lending rate is 8 per cent. But, the repo-linked lending rate may change effectively from September 1 as we had a repo rate cut of 35 basis points (bps) announced by the RBI in August.

Currently, RLLR is at 8 per cent. Banks will maintain a spread over and above RLLR of 40 to 55 bps. So, the effective rate for home loans up to Rs. 75 lakhs range from 8.4 per cent to 8.55 per cent. For home loans above Rs 75 lakhs, the effective rate is 8.95 per cent to 9.10 per cent (i.e. spread of 95 to 110 bps on RLLR of 8 per cent). With effect from 10th August, the home loan rates linked to MCLR would be 8.6 per cent to 8.85 per cent at SBI, which is more than RLLR.

Similarly, for Bank of Baroda MCLR linked home loan rate starts at 8.45 per cent, while the repo-linked rate starts at 8.35 per cent. At present its 5 bps cheaper than SBI’s repo-linked home loan scheme. Repo rate linked home loan scheme will be beneficial to borrowers with immediate savings when the interest rate goes down.” For instance, with a further 50 bps rate cut as expected in the next year, there will be further savings for borrowers on interest.

Let aside the interest rates alone, if you choose to switch for an RLLR home loan there are more added costs to be noticed, for instance, SBI levy’s transfer and processing charges of 0.35% on the amount of loan plus GST. The minimum fees shall be Rs 2,000 and the maximum can go up to Rs 10,000 plus GST. These charges may vary from bank to bank

One should wait a bit longer as other banks are also coming up with this scheme so one can choose a home loan from the bank of his choice and preference but also take into consideration the charges and extra paperwork, hassle and time to keep a tab on both accounts one home loan and other accounts (savings, joint etc). One has to take into consideration the fact that if you choose another bank apart from your savings bank look at the spread (margin) the bank is charging over and above RLLR. Check the impact of the spread between RLLR and the final rate of interest offered. Stick to the ones which offer the least spread as it reflects RBI’s repo rate policy correctly.

It’s also to be noted that the RLLR is effective from the following month after RBI monetary policy announcement. But, the borrowers also need to be aware and prepared that RBI can increase the repo rate due to the economic factors.

As far as the private banks are concerned; from Axis Bank, Mr Rajiv Anand, executive director for corporate lending said, “It’s not necessary to use only external benchmarks; there are multiple avenues to meet the requirement that the RBI wants us to do… What RBI is essentially looking at is that the rates are being cut and there should be better transmission”. More details on this weren’t revealed whether Axis bank is planning to offer RLLR but he did mention “Axis Bank’s asset-liability committee will take a call on the same.”

Hence, this scheme is to target customers & borrowers who reside in Tier 1 or Tier 2 cities and having an annual steady income of Rs.6 lakh. So before switching your home loan take note of the above points as to charges, the spread between RLLR and final interest rate and also if the central bank may increase the repo rate due to economic scenario.

Author
Rishi Khanna
Team Member- Equity Research & Valuation
(MSc Finance, NMIMS Mumbai. Batch 2019-21)

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