R Gandhi's appointment to YES Bank board may be precautionary: Macquarie

R Gandhi

The Reserve Bank's appointment of an additional director to the board of Yes Bank could be a precautionary move in view of the lender's weak capital position and stress in the balance sheet, investment bank Macquarie said.

Earlier this week, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) appointed former Deputy Governor R Gandhi as an additional director to the board of Yes Bank.

Macquarie Research said, even in the past, RBI had appointed additional directors to the boards of banks like Dhanlaxmi Bank and Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB).

Both the banks have performed poorly and are in a beleaguered state.

"Many investors are fearing that there could be more skeletons in the closet of Yes Bank, due to which RBI has taken this action. In our view, while there are problems in the bank, and balance sheet looks stressed with the capital position being weak, the move by RBI could be a precautionary move as Yes Bank is much larger than banks like Dhanlaxmi or LVB and any failure here could have serious systemic implications," it said.

RBI move, it said, could be cautious and pre-emptive here.

Also, the problems in Dhanlaxmi and LVB were far more serious; and RBI, in our view, appointed directors a bit late, whereas in Yes Bank they want their director to be on the board before the situation goes out of control.

"Investors continue to be worried about Yes Bank's large exposure to Anil Ambani Group and Essel group of companies," it added.

In a statement, Yes Bank Friday said it "warmly" welcomes the appointment of Gandhi.

"This is a very positive and constructive measure aimed at further strengthening the board. This will not impede the smooth, independent and effective functioning of the bank in any way," it had said.

"RBI is supportive of a strong and successful Yes Band and we stand committed to serving the best interests of all our stakeholders."

The appointment has been made under sub-section (1) of the Section 36 AB of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.

The central bank can, according to this section, appoint additional directors "if the Reserve Bank is of (opinion that in the interest of banking policy or in the public interest or) in the interests of the banking company or its depositors it is necessary so to do, it may, from time to time by order in writing, appoint, with effect from such date as may be specified in the order, one or more persons to hold office as additional directors of the banking company."

"We have seen a lot of skepticism amongst investors. With CET1 (Common Equity Tier I) at 8.4 per cent and more write-offs looming, the bank desperately needs capital, otherwise problems could compound further," Macquarie said.

"We aren't sure the investor appetite is strong enough, which makes capital-raising an enormous challenge. The only way out could be a PE investor bailing them out and getting a board seat in return," it added.

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