Have telcos approached SBI to finance AGR dues after SC rap? Rajnish Kumar says this

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Updated: February 15, 2020 3:16:50 PM

It is incumbent on the telcos to find money and will be safe to presume that they would have made some arrangements for it by now, SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar said on Friday.

Rajnish Kumar, Supreme Court, AGR dues, Nasscom, telecom sector, Department of Telecommunications, vodafone ideaKumar said the bank has a Rs 29,000 crore exposure to the telecom sector and another up to Rs 14,000 crore in non-fund based exposure which will devolve only if there is a non-payment of dues.

It is incumbent on the telcos to find money and will be safe to presume that they would have made some arrangements for it by now, SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar said on Friday. He also said that the bank will be passing on all the benefits of the cash reserve ratio (CRR) reliefs on small ticket loans to the borrowers and a decision on the same will be done before April 1. The comments on telecom companies come on a day when the Supreme Court made it clear that they will have to cough up the Rs 1.47 lakh crore in adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues and also questioned why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against those who are coming in way of implementing its order.

“It is now for the telecom companies to decide how will they find the money or what course of action they will take,” Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of the annual NTLF here. “They (telcos) would have made their arrangements is what I presume,” Kumar said, adding that it has not been approached by any of the telecom company. The payments to be made by the companies include Rs 53,000 crore by Vodafone Idea, Rs 35,500 crore by Bharti Airtel and Rs 14,000 crore by the now defunct Tata Teleservices.

Kumar said the bank has a Rs 29,000 crore exposure to the telecom sector and another up to Rs 14,000 crore in non-fund based exposure which will devolve only if there is a non-payment of dues. Its gross non-performing assets include Rs 9,000 crore from the telecom sector, he said, adding that it has been provided for in full and the bank has decided not to set aside money against standard assets there.

On the CRR benefit pass through, he said the next review of the external benchmark-linked rates is scheduled to take place in April 1, but an announcement will be made before that as well. The bank, at present, is calculating what exactly will be the benefit of the RBI’s move announced on February 6 and the quantum of the benefit to the end customer will be soon arrived at.

Meanwhile, on the troubles of Yes Bank, Kumar said SBI also had to contend with “mess” because of its corporate lending like the private sector lender, but could absorb the impact because of its size while the smaller sized Yes Bank suffered. The impact on both the banks was “more or less the same”, he said. He claimed SBI is the biggest e-commerce player at present through its digital banking offering ‘Yono’ if one were to exclude pure-play players in the segment.

The bank has done over Rs 14,000 crore of personal loans through the app and the interest and fees earned through it will help it recover the Rs 800 crore investment in the app, he said. It is on boarding an average of 70,000 users per day on Yono and will be hitting the 20 million mark soon, even before it celebrates the second anniversary of the offering, Kumar said. Taking potshots at new-age digital players, Kumar said a bank’s valuation goes up when it reports profits, while it is losses that drive the valuations for new age entities.

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