Project Sashakt: PSBs will need Rs 1.3 trn to tackle bad loans, says panel

Public sector banks (PSBs) will need an additional capital of Rs 1.1-1.3 trillion over the next two years to implement a five-point strategy to tackle bad loans, a committee report on project ‘Sashakt’ has stated.

Among demands made to the government for implementing the Sashakt plan, the committee of bankers, led by Punjab National Bank (PNB) chairman Sunil Mehta, has sought additional capital that will be required in a phased manner “to provide for upfront haircut and growth capital over a period of two years”. The committee suggested some PSBs are undercapitalised and may require heavy capital infusion to sustain.“PSBs will require additional capital to drive the resolution through the five approaches. The overall capital requirement for resolution is expected to be about Rs 1.1-1.3 trillion. This capital will be required over a period of two fiscal years — 2018-19 and 2019-20,” the report said. It added that PSBs will be able to build some capital buffer through operating profits and sale of non-core assets, which should help reduce the capital requirement in 2019-20.

“In addition to the capital above, some PSBs are already under-capitalised and require capital infusion to continue operations. Growth capital will also be required. These requirements are additional and not included in the calculations above,” it said.

State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Rajnish Kumar, Bank of Baroda Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer P S Jayakumar and SBI Deputy MD C Venkat Nageswar, were also part of the committee, which submitted its report to Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on July 2.

The committee has estimated a capital to support the haircut in the range of Rs 400-450 billion by resolving loans through the asset management company (AMC) or asset restructuring company (ARC) route. 

Capital worth about Rs 500 billion will be required for PSBs to invest in alternative investment funds (AIFs), it said.

Apart from the additional capital, the panel has also sought some regulatory approvals to implement the plan. The panel has recommended seeking special dispensation from the Securities and Exchange Board of India to exempt the AIF from making an open offer under the Takeover Code.

According to Sebi guidelines, an acquisition of more than 25 per cent in a listed entity is termed as ‘control’ and requires an open offer. 

Under an open offer, the acquiring company must make an offer to existing shareholders, aimed at giving them an exit option.  

The panel further asked Sebi to allow AIFs to hold more than 51 per cent in listed securities as the non-convertible debentures issued will be listed and equity for many entities may also be listed. Investments by banks in AIFs attract 150 per cent risk weight for the first three years and 250 per cent after that period and the panel sought some relaxation from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). 

“The investments of the AIF under discussion are predominantly debts as the AIF would subscribe to the bonds issued by a borrower company. 

Hence, a dispensation may be sought from RBI to allow capital required by banks to hold AIF units to be as per rating of the bonds issued by a credit rating agency,” the report stated.

It also asked the central and state governments to exempt stamp duty and registration fees for all transactions under the proposed plan. Under Sashakt, the committee recommended bad loans amounting to less than Rs 500 million will need a special small and medium enterprises assets vertical in banks, those in the range of Rs 500 million-Rs 5 billion will need a bank-led resolution process and loan accounts above Rs 5 billion will have to be resolved through the asset management company route,

Apart from these, assets with a potential of turnaround may go through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and an asset trading platform may be set up by financial institutions to trade performing and non-performing loans.

A massive recapitalisation plan for PSBs is already underway with the government announcing a Rs 2.11 trillion capital infusion programme in October last year. Of the Rs 1.35 billion to be infused through recapitalization bonds, the government has already infused about Rs 710 billion in the banks, Rs 113 billion in five PSBs last month and balance would be done during this fiscal.

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