Central Bank plans to close 600 branches across India? What we know so far

The Central Bank of India reported its total number of branches as 4,528 at the end of March 2022, which is the same compared to the December quarter of 2021. The bank reportedly intends to reduce the number of branches by 600, or 13 percent of the total, by either closing or merging loss-making branches by the end of March 2023.

The total number of stores was 4,528 at the end of the March quarter of 2022, according to Monday’s BSE filing. However, the state lender has said it has yet to decide on the number of branches to close in the current fiscal year (FY23). It reduced its number of stores by 186 between April 2017 and December 2021.

The bank has been under the Reserve Bank of India’s Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) regime since June 2017 due to its high net NPA and negative return on assets.

“The Central Bank of India is reporting on the closure of branches in the press/media. We hereby share that there is currently no decision to close a large number of stores in fiscal year 2022-23,” the lender said in Saturday’s statement.

However, the Central Bank of India said it is a routine exercise for any bank to periodically realign/move/merge/close/open branches to meet corporate goals. “We assure our valued customers and everyone else involved that their interests are well protected.”

At the end of the financial year, the bank checks the functioning of the branch – viability and contribution to turnover and profit. According to a PTI report, which quotes a senior bank executive, the bank has asked sales representatives to provide an assessment of the branches and only make a decision after a detailed study.

The bank has reported a net profit of Rs 310 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 2022 on improved net interest income (NII) and reduced provisions. It had posted a net loss of Rs 1,349 crore for the quarter ended March 2021. For FY22, the Mumbai-based lender’s net profit was Rs 1,045 crore versus a loss of Rs 888 crore for FY21.

MV Rao, the bank’s managing director and chief executive, said the lender meets PCA parameters and will provide audited results to RBI. It will also submit a request to the RBI to opt out of the PCA regime.

The bank’s NII rose 59.43 percent to Rs.2,417 crore in the quarter of March 2022 from Rs.1,516 crore a year ago.

Provisions fell 42.09 per cent to Rs 1,150 crore in Q4 FY22 from Rs 1,986 crore in Q4 FY21. Pension coverage ratio (PCR) improved to 86.69 per cent from 82.54 per cent .

Asset quality improved with gross non-performing assets (gross NPAs) falling from 16.55 percent a year earlier to 14.84 percent in March 2022. Net NPAs were 3.97 percent in March 2022, down from 5 .77 percent a year ago.

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