Money & Banking

Concern around NPAs is a little overdone: Ravneet Gill

Surabhi Mumbai | Updated on June 26, 2019 Published on June 26, 2019

YES Bank CEO rules out plans to sell large NPAs

It has been an ‘intense initiation’ for Ravneet Gill, Managing Director and CEO, YES Bank, who took over just about four months ago and has since then overseen a quarter and fiscal year-end, an Annual General Meeting and the current capital-raising exercise. In an interview to BusinessLine, Gill outlines plans for the private sector lender, including continued focus on corporate lending and digitally-driven expansion plan. Excerpts:

How much of a concern is your NPAs? Are you looking for buyers for some large NPAs?

I think our NPAs need addressing, but I would say that the concern around NPAs right now is a little overdone. Partly this is because a lot of it is based on hearsay, whereas the reality may be different. We are not looking to sell any large NPAs. The large positions that we have talked about are all bilateral lendings and where we can see a clear resolution. We don’t feel the need to take haircuts and sell off exposure. Selectively, we might look at a one-off exposure where we may feel better to sell it rather than go through the protracted legal procedure. But that’s far and few between.

What will be the bank’s focus for its lending portfolio?

We are essentially a corporate bank and we will continue to be a corporate bank. We also want to grow our retail book so our revenue stream is diversified. But our core DNA is corporate and that is something we will stay with. Over the last 7-8 years, the whole corporate investment cycle has been subdued; but despite that the bank has been able to grow quite quickly. So when the investment cycle comes back, the bank will be very well-positioned.

You have had a lot of investor meets. What do they want to know?

Investors want to understand how the transition is looking, future strategy and ask questions around our credit portfolio. These are the three things and a lot of their views are based on perception. Once they get our views, we just find them feeling a lot more comfortable.

What about your depositors? How have they reacted to the issues at the bank?

Our retail team has stayed close to depositors, kept them abreast. We want to have a transparent engagement with all our stakeholders including depositors. People understand what we are trying to achieve and at present, the transition may look a little turbulent but they believe in the long-term strategy of the bank. They continue to harbour a lot of goodwill towards the bank and to that extent, we have seen stability in terms of our deposit.

What kind of questions did shareholders at the AGM ask?

We are going through a process of transition. All I will request for is a little bit of patience, they should take comfort from the fact that the issue we are trying to resolve, will get resolved. A lot of shareholders have huge belief in the bank and at the AGM a lot of them said that if we are looking to raise capital why don’t we do a rights issue and they will put in money.

What kind of an expansion strategy does YES Bank have?

There are two ways to grow: increasing the footprint from the branch perspective, and the second one is the whole digital enablement. Our growth, going forward in terms of expanding our footprint, will be much more driven by digital enablement rather than brick-and-mortar branches. I believe that the way YES Bank has platformised itself is very commendable and it is way ahead of the curve in terms of technological savviness. We will look at branch expansion but it will be a mix of digital and brick-and-mortar, mainly digital.

What about the recent Board level exits?

It was just coincidental that two board members left at the same time. Both left for personal reasons. But because the two happened around the same time and near to the AGM, it became a little controversial. The process of finding replacements is already under way.

Has YES Bank lost any business to its peers due to the internal issues?

Not really. Whether we look at the asset or liability side, I don’t think we have lost any business we wanted to do. Banking is one sector where you always wish your competitors are strong. Because it is a sector which is very inter-dependent. So, it is in everybody’s interest that the entire ecosystem is very strong and stable.

What is your view on the current economic situation and your expectation from the Budget?

I expect the Budget to be growth- and development-oriented and also focus on job creation. My sense is that we will see a Budget that will give a big boost to growth, the economy will provide more investment opportunities and there will be more opportunity for banks to participate as well.

Published on June 26, 2019
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