The State Bank of India (SBI) is offering every possible opportunity to the grounded Kingfisher Airlines to restart operations, said Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri.
“The meeting of the bankers with the airline, in the red, will soon happen. At the same time we are also mindful of what the company owes to our bank. We don’t give up hope till they say no,” he said. Speaking to reporters after handing over two ambulance vans donated by the bank’s local head office as part of a corporate social responsibility initiative, he said the bank is doing “a fine balancing act”.
When asked how much income SBI had lost since Vijay Mallya-controlled Kingfisher had not serviced the SBI loans from January last year, he said the bank had stopped applying interest when the loan became non-performing asset and it had not done the exact calculations on the loss.
SBI is the biggest lender to Kingfisher and the company owes nearly Rs 1,600 crore (Rs 16 billion) to this bank.
The SBI chief said the bank was comfortable on the liquidity front. However, he added that there is a genuine concern among banks as tax-free bonds, infrastructure bonds and mutual fund instruments are taking away savings from the banks.
“Within the financial savings, bank deposits are becoming less attractive because of unfavourable taxation rate,” he said.
The government’s subdued projection of five per cent growth for the economy will not particularly affect the banking industry, he added.
Chaudhuri said the net interest margin (NIM) would not be affected following the recent cut in rates. “We have given full monetary transmission to the interested policies of the RBI. CRR cut of 25 basis points has put in our hands Rs 250 crore (Rs 2.5 billion) more in profitability and another Rs 25 crore due to cut in the repo rates."