New Delhi : Fresh from the successful merger of five associates with SBI, the government is looking to consolidate more public banks going forward, with an aim to create only a few lenders of global size and scale.
The Finance Ministry, according to an official, "will soon undertake a broad study on further consolidation and look at various options for merger among the remaining 21 public sector banks".
There are factors like regional balance, geographical reach, financial burden and smooth human resource transition that have to be looked into while taking a merger decision, the official said, adding that there should not be merger of a very weak bank with a strong bank "as it could pull the latter down".
"There are some low-hanging fruits. For example, Punjab and Sind Bank can be merged into Punjab National Bank. Big lenders like Bank of Baroda can take over some turnaround banks in the southern region such as Indian Overseas Bank. Dena Bank could be merged with some large South Indian bank," the official explained.
The merger process will get a boost with the likely improvement in the NPA situation over the next two quarters, the official said, adding that "some movement on this front would begin soon".
Toxic loans of public sector banks rose by over Rs 1 lakh crore to Rs 6.06 lakh crore during April-December of 2016-17, the bulk of which came from power, steel, road infrastructure and textile sectors.
Last week, RBI Governor Urjit Patel said that the Indian banking system could be better off if some public sector banks are consolidated to have a fewer but healthier entities as it would help in dealing with the problem of stressed assets.
The merger proposals in the banking sector would require clearance from the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the official added.