Yes Bank explores bid for Citibank's Indian assets

Private lender Yes Bank is exploring a potential bid for the Indian retail assets of Citibank, joining a list of suitors eyeing the local operations of the foreign bank that is partially exiting 13 countries. Yes Bank will also look at acquiring Citi’s retail assets, including credit cards and wealth management in India, chief executive Prashant Kumar said.

“We would definitely explore that opportunity; I think they are running a process. Once all of that is in the public domain, we would definitely like to explore not only credit cards, but also wealth management and retail business. Then, depending on our appetite, we would take a call,” he said in an interview.

Citibank India has 35 branches and serves 29 lakh retail customers, including 12 lakh bank accounts and 22 lakh credit card accounts. It has a 6% market share of retail credit card spends in India. Yes Bank has a credit card base of 9,47,000, with spends at Rs.2,288 crore as on March 31.

Over the last year, Kumar has been making efforts to rebuild the bank amid challenges posed by Covid. The bank reported a 33% growth in retail term deposits from a year earlier, 60% growth in corporate term deposits and 50% growth in current and savings accounts (Casa) in 2020-21.

Even in terms of capital, the bank is placed on a much stronger footing, with a 17.5% capital adequacy ratio as of March 2021

While its loan book shrank 3% in 2020-21, Kumar is confident of clocking a 15% credit growth in 2021-22. “Even if you see this year, there would have been credit growth. It is not shown in the number because we have made accelerated provision,” said Kumar, adding that in the March quarter, the bank disbursed Rs.15,000 crore in loans, of which ₹3,500 crore went to corporates, and the rest to retail and small business borrowers.

“Getting a growth of Rs.50,000 crore (in FY22) is easily achievable for us. Post-recoveries, we will have a net growth of Rs.30,000 crore, which is a little less than 20%,” he added.

However, the bank’s asset quality continues to be under pressure, with gross non-performing assets as a percentage of total loans hovering above 15%. The bank’s plan to further clean up the soured loan book by setting up an asset reconstruction company is facing a roadblock after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) turned down the proposal. Kumar said the bank will be able to survive the second Covid wave, aided by buffers it has built for future impact. Its provision coverage ratio currently stands at 78.6%.

“After the Supreme Court verdict, stress was recognised, and we have made adequate provisioning. We have a stable book. Almost Rs.2,500 crore is where restructuring has been invoked. And it’s going to be implemented in 2-3 weeks. I don’t see any such challenge,” he added.

Even in terms of capital, the bank is placed on a much stronger footing, with a 17.5% capital adequacy ratio as of March 2021. Kumar said he now has a much better sense of the bank and is, therefore, able to give an outlook, something he refrained from last year when he was brought in to rescue the bank.

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