The Central Bank of India has yet to decide whether to close 600 branches

The Central Bank of India, which has been under the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) regime since June 2017, said on Saturday it has yet to decide on the number of branches to close in the current fiscal year (FY23).

While the Mumbai-based public sector lender reduced its number of branches by 186 between April 2017 and December 2021, there have been reports that it intends to close 600 branches in 2022-23 (FY23). The number of branches was 4,528 at the end of December 2021.

The bank said in a statement there was currently no decision to close a large number of branches in fiscal 2022-23. However, it is routine for any bank to periodically realign, relocate, merge, close and open branches to meet the company’s business goals. The interests of customers and all other stakeholders are well protected.

According to analysts’ presentations from banks, rationalization was predominantly in metropolitan and urban areas. The number of branches in metropolitan areas fell from 910 in March 20217 to 811 in December 2021, and those in urban centers fell from 846 in March 2017 to 783 in December 2021. Not seen much rationalization.

In June 2017, the Reserve Bank of India placed the Central Bank of India under the PCA regime due to the high net NPA and negative return on assets.

At the end of the financial year, the bank checks the functioning of the branch – viability and contribution to turnover and profit. The bank has asked field staff to provide an assessment of the branches and only make a decision after a detailed study, a senior bank executive said.

Cheryl Tenny

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