The head office of State Bank of India in New Delhi. Photo: Reuters
The head office of State Bank of India in New Delhi. Photo: Reuters

With credit demand down to six-decade lows in India and no signs of early recovery in sight, the country’s largest public-owned bank State Bank of India (SBI) has pinned hopes on overseas operations to shore up its revenue and profits.

The yields in global operations are higher than lending to top-rated private firms in India, a bank official told Economic Times.

The bank sees huge potential in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as well as Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) . It has already opened branches in Myanmar and South Korea.

SBI’s domestic loans growth fell to 6% at the end of September, from over 15% in 2011-12. The bank’s bad loans have also risen to 9.8% of the total loans.

The bank recorded a 4.22% annual growth in its international banking book and its international advances book grew to Rs 2.9 trillion (US$ 44.74 billion) at the end of September 2017, with gross non-performing asset ratio of 2.56%. SBI operates in more than 35 countries and has more than 200 offices as part of its overseas operations.

According to data released by India’s central bank Reserve Bank of India, the credit growth for the financial year 2016-17 had plunged to a six-decade low of 5.08% against 10.7% a year ago due to high bad debt and weak corporate demand. It is the lowest since 1953-54 when it was just 1.7%.

Bank deposits, however, grew 11.75% during fiscal 2017, helped by large flow of funds into the banking system after demonetization of high value notes last November.

Outstanding bank deposits stood at Rs 108.05 trillion (US$ 1.6 trillion) as of March 31, 2017 against Rs 96.68 trillion (US$ 1.48 trillion) on April 1, 2016. Last financial year deposits grew 9.72%.

It may be noted that India’s banking system is saddled with close to Rs 14 trillion (US$ 217 billion) of bad loans, including those turned dud after restructuring. This is almost 15% of the system.

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