SBI's new chief says top priority to maintain loan book quality

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's largest lender, the newly appointed chairman of the State Bank of India, said his focus in his acquisition will be on maintaining the quality of the loan book while ensuring that provisioning requirements are met.
At a time when the Indian banking system is ravaged by the pandemic, SBI sees credit growth of around 6% to 7%, while business for Dinesh Kumar Khara bank is "returning 70% to 80% to pre-COVID-19 levels" . Chairman, SBI said in a press conference after taking the lead on Wednesday.
Prior to taking over as chairman, Khara was the bank's managing director and responsible for overseeing SBI's global markets and subsidiaries.
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Khara was appointed chairman for a three-year term.
While concerns about SBI remain in certain segments due to the economic disruption caused by the pandemic, the stress in the credit books overall is still nothing to worry about, Khara added.
The new boss has also ruled out any immediate plans to monetize his subsidiaries in the near term as the market remains subdued.
SBI is also "very seriously" considering options to enter the country's digital payments ecosystem as a primary stakeholder. The lender, along with other stakeholders, can apply to the central bank for a license to set up a payment company to operate digital payment networks across the country.

(Reporting by Nupur Anand; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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