PSBs' losses up 3.5 times to Rs 147 bn in Q2 on bad loans; PNB hit hardest

Illustration by Binay Sinha

State-owned banks saw their cumulative losses widen nearly three-and-a-half times to Rs 147.16 billion (Rs 14,716.2 crore) in the July-September quarter of the current financial year due to mounting bad loans.

These 21 public sector banks had posted a net loss of Rs 42.84 billion (Rs 4,284.45 crore) in the September quarter of 2017-18.

On a quarterly basis, however, their performance was somewhat better as they narrowed down their losses by about Rs 20 billion (Rs 2,000 crore) to Rs 147.16 billion (Rs 14,716.2 crore) in the said quarter from Rs 166.15 billion (Rs 16,614.9 crore) in April-June 2018.

Higher provisioning towards bad loans or non-performing assets (NPAs) had impacted the balance sheets of these PSU lenders.

As per the financial results posted by them, the biggest loss was posted by scam-hit Punjab National Bank (PNB) Rs 45.32 billion (Rs 4,532.35 crore) in the September quarter of the current fiscal as against a profit of Rs 5.61 billion (Rs 560.58 crore) in the year-ago period.

PNB's provisioning for bad loans and contingencies rose to Rs 97.58 billion (Rs 9,757.90 crore) for the quarter from Rs 24.41 billion (Rs 2,440.79 crore) a year ago. Of this, the provisions for bad loans or NPAs were Rs 77.33 billion (Rs 7,733.27 crore) as against Rs 26.94 billion (Rs 2,693.78 crore) a year ago.

India's second largest PSU bank suffered huge losses after the detection of a massive fraud to the tune of nearly Rs 140 billion (Rs 14,000 crore) in March quarter this year, allegedly committed by diamond jewellery designer Nirav Modi and his associates. The bank had to make provisioning for the losses.

IDBI Bank posted a loss of Rs 36.03 billion (Rs 3,602.50 crore) and Allahabad Bank Rs 18.23 billion (Rs 1,822.71 crore) in the September quarter. IDBI Bank's loss was Rs 1.98 billion (Rs 197.84 crore) in the year-ago quarter while Allahabad Bank had posted a profit of Rs 702 million (Rs 70.2 crore).

The narrowing of the cumulative net losses on quarter-on-quarter basis could be mainly attributed to good performance by State Bank of India and Oriental Bank of Commerce.

SBI, which had incurred a net loss of Rs 48.76 billion (Rs 4,875.85 crore) in the June quarter, posted a profit of Rs 9.45 billion (Rs 944.87 crore) for July-September. Oriental Bank of Commerce posted a profit of Rs 1.02 billion (Rs 101.74 crore) as against a net loss of Rs 393.21 crore in the June quarter of the current fiscal.

The combined loss of these 21 banks was Rs 626.81 billion (Rs 62,681.27 crore) in the quarter ending March 2018.

The government and the RBI have been taking steps to help the debt-ridden public sector banks to improve their performance. The government on its part has been infusing capital in these banks and the Reserve Bank of India has tightened monitoring.

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