Putting branch rationalisation plan on fast track, Punjab National Bank (PNB) has placed 300 branches under watch and asked them to either shape up within a year or face closure or merger. “That (rationalisation) exercise is going on. We have given notice to all loss-making branches that within one year they should turnaround otherwise we will look for options for their mergers or closure. We are working on 300 branches,” PNB Managing Director Sunil Mehta told PTI in an interview. He, however, clarified that not all of them are loss- making, and some are marginally profit making. “So, we are working on all those plans. If they are able to turnaround its okay otherwise we will have to close them down or merge,” he said. The country’s second largest public sector lender has about 7,000 branches across the country. The branch rationalisation proposal was discussed at the ‘PSB Manthan’ organised by the Finance Ministry last month. As far as overseas branches are concerned, Mehta said, the bank has taken decision to close down representative offices in Australia and China.
At present, PNB has its overseas presence in nine countries by way of four branches (2 Hong Kong, 1 Dubai and 1 OBU-Mumbai), two subsidiaries (London and Bhutan), one Associate (Kazakhstan), one joint venture (Nepal) and four Representative Offices (Sydney Australia, Shanghai-China, Dhaka-Bangladesh and Dubai-UAE).
Asked if the bank aims at divesting some of stakes in its the UK subsidiary, Mehta said, the bank has been able to convert PNB International into a profit making centre now. “We have an opportunity to disinvest in it but right now it has just turnaround. We would like to stabilise it first then only we will unlock the value. We will get better value then,” he said.