INTRODUCTION: The Indian Banking industry, which is governed by the Banking Regulation Act of India, 1949 can be broadly classified into two major categories, non-scheduled banks and scheduled banks. Scheduled banks comprise commercial banks and the co-operative banks. In terms of ownership, commercial banks can be further grouped into nationalized banks, the State Bank of India and its group banks, regional rural banks and private sector banks (the old/ new domestic and foreign). These banks have over 67,000 branches spread across the country in every city and villages of all nook and corners of the land.
The first phase of financial reforms resulted in the nationalization of 14 major banks in 1969 and resulted in a shift from Class banking to Mass banking. This in turn resulted in a significant growth in the geographical coverage of banks. Every bank had to earmark a minimum percentage of their loan portfolio to sectors identified as “priority sectors”. The manufacturing sector also grew during the 1970s in protected environs and the banking sector was a critical source. The next wave of reforms saw the nationalization of 6 more commercial banks in 1980. Since then the number of scheduled commercial banks increased four-fold and the number of bank branches increased eight-fold. And that was not the limit of growth.
After the second phase of financial sector reforms and liberalization of the sector in the early nineties, the Public Sector Banks (PSB) s found it extremely difficult to compete with the new private sector banks and the foreign banks. The new private sector banks first made their appearance after the guidelines permitting them were issued in January 1993. Eight new private sector banks are presently in operation. These banks due to their late start have access to state-of-the-art technology, which in turn helps them to save on manpower costs.
During the year 2000, the State Bank Of India (SBI) and its 7 associates accounted for a 25 percent share in deposits and 28.1 percent share in credit. The 20 nationalized banks accounted for 53.2 percent of the deposits and 47.5 percent of credit during the same period. The share of foreign banks (numbering 42), regional rural banks and other scheduled commercial banks accounted for 5.7 percent, 3.9 percent and 12.2 percent respectively in deposits and 8.41 percent, 3.14 percent and 12.85 percent respectively in credit during the year 2000.about the detail of the current scenario we will go through the trends in modern economy of the country.
The industry is currently in a transition phase. On the one hand, the PSBs, which are the mainstay of the Indian Banking system are in the process of shedding their flab in terms of excessive manpower, excessive non Performing Assets (Npas) and excessive governmental equity, while on the other hand the private sector banks are consolidating themselves through mergers and acquisitions.
PSBs, which currently account for more than 78 percent of total banking industry assets are saddled with NPAs (a mind-boggling Rs 830 billion in 2000), falling revenues from traditional sources, lack of modern technology and a massive workforce while the new private sector banks are forging ahead and rewriting the traditional banking business model by way of their sheer innovation and service. The PSBs are of course currently working out challenging strategies even as 20 percent of their massive employee strength has dwindled in the wake of the successful Voluntary Retirement Schemes (VRS) schemes.
The private players however cannot match the PSB’s great reach, great size and access to low cost deposits. Therefore one of the means for them to combat the PSBs has been through the merger and acquisition (M& A) route. Over the last two years, the industry has witnessed several such instances. For instance, HDFC Bank’s merger with Times Bank Icici Bank’s acquisition of ITC Classic, Anagram Finance and Bank of Madurai. Centurion Bank, Indusind Bank, Bank of Punjab, Vysya Bank are said to be on the lookout. The UTI bank- Global Trust Bank merger however opened a pandora’s box and brought about the realization that all was not well in the functioning of many of the private sector banks.
Private sector Banks have pioneered internet banking, phone banking, anywhere banking, mobile banking, debit cards, Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and combined various other services and integrated them into the mainstream banking arena, while the PSBs are still grappling with disgruntled employees in the aftermath of successful VRS schemes. Also, following India’s commitment to the W To agreement in respect of the services sector, foreign banks, including both new and the existing ones, have been permitted to open up to 12 branches a year with effect from 1998-99 as against the earlier stipulation of 8 branches.
Tasks of government diluting their equity from 51 percent to 33 percent in November 2000 has also opened up a new opportunity for the takeover of even the PSBs. The FDI rules being more rationalized in Q1FY02 may also pave the way for foreign banks taking the M& A route to acquire willing Indian partners.
Meanwhile the economic and corporate sector slowdown has led to an increasing number of banks focusing on the retail segment. Many of them are also entering the new vistas of Insurance. Banks with their phenomenal reach and a regular interface with the retail investor are the best placed to enter into the insurance sector. Banks in India have been allowed to provide fee-based insurance services without risk participation, invest in an insurance company for providing infrastructure and services support and set up of a separate joint-venture insurance company with risk participation.
Aggregate Performance of the Banking Industry
Aggregate deposits of scheduled commercial banks increased at a compounded annual average growth rate (Cagr) of 17.8 percent during 1969-99, while bank credit expanded at a Cagr of 16.3 percent per annum. Banks’ investments in government and other approved securities recorded a Cagr of 18.8 percent per annum during the same period.
In FY01 the economic slowdown resulted in a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of only 6.0 percent as against the previous year’s 6.4 percent. The WPI Index (a measure of inflation) increased by 7.1 percent as against 3.3 percent in FY00. Similarly, money supply (M3) grew by around 16.2 percent as against 14.6 percent a year ago.
The growth in aggregate deposits of the scheduled commercial banks at 15.4 percent in FY01 percent was lower than that of 19.3 percent in the previous year, while the growth in credit by SCBs slowed down to 15.6 percent in FY01 against 23 percent a year ago.
The industrial slowdown also affected the earnings of listed banks. The net profits of 20 listed banks dropped by 34.43 percent in the quarter ended March 2001. Net profits grew by 40.75 percent in the first quarter of 2000-2001, but dropped to 4.56 percent in the fourth quarter of 2000-2001.
On the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) front while most banks managed to fulfill the norms, it was a feat achieved with its own share of difficulties. The CAR, which at present is 9.0 percent, is likely to be hiked to 12.0 percent by the year 2004 based on the Basle Committee recommendations. Any bank that wishes to grow its assets needs to also shore up its capital at the same time so that its capital as a percentage of the risk-weighted assets is maintained at the stipulated rate. While the IPO route was a much-fancied one in the early ‘90s, the current scenario doesn’t look too attractive for bank majors.
Consequently, banks have been forced to explore other avenues to shore up their capital base. While some are wooing foreign partners to add to the capital others are employing the M& A route. Many are also going in for right issues at prices considerably lower than the market prices to woo the investors.