Taking a leaf out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll campaign, eminent banker Uday Kotak said that the Rs 15,000-crore merger between Kotak Mahindra Bank and ING Vysya Bank is a precursor to ‘Achche Din’ and would create a world-class financial institution of size and scale.
The all-share deal, for which he expects all necessary regulatory approvals by March 2015, would create India’s fourth largest bank with a combined balance-sheet size of over Rs 2 lakh crore and market value of over Rs 1 lakh crore.
Kotak, who heads nearly 12-year-old Kotak Mahindra Bank, also allayed concerns that the merger would result into any job losses and said that the synergies from the transaction would instead provide new growth opportunities for staff of the two banks and also create new jobs over a period of time.
“This is a merger for growth and a merger for ‘achche din’ coming. This deal is for a belief that the future of India over the next ten years is bright and for that we need to create capacity and build muscles.
“This is the time to build financial institutions which are able to meet India’s future needs. If India is on a marathon growth track over the next ten years, we in the banking industry have to prepare ourselves for that and this merger is a step towards that,” Kotak said in an interview here.
Kotak also expressed confidence that the deal would provide significant opportunities for international cooperation, in addition to huge synergies in domestic markets and in various product segments and on digital platform.
Post the merger, Dutch financial services giant ING, currently the main promoter of over 80-year-old ING Vysya Bank, would become a shareholder in the merged entity and would remain invested for minimum one year.
“The main purpose of doing this is that we believe that there is a significant compatibility between the two banks.
“Kotak Mahindra Bank has very significant presence in the West and the North and our total branch network between these two regions is 80 per cent and in case of ING Vysya Bank, their network in South is 64 per cent of their total branch network.
“Therefore it is almost like a perfect fit if you look at the two branch networks together. We have a total of 1,200 branches combined. Therefore, it enables us to focus on building synergies together. We also see a very significant opportunity in products and distribution together.
“For example, Kotak Mahindra Bank is a very significant lender and the largest bank financier in the tractor finance business. ING Vysya Bank has a very limited presence in tractor finance, but it has got a large number of branches in South including 170 branches in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, which is one-third of their network,” he added.
“Similarly, we have a whole host of products like wealth management, mutual fund, life insurance products of our companies for which their distribution network can be leveraged to distribute those products,” Kotak said.
“The other area that we are very excited about is SME business where ING Vysya Bank is very active. If really have to make the ‘Make In India’ dream happen, it will have to be through SMEs.
“ING Vysya Bank has a very strong model for SME business, including for trader communities in South, and we want to leverage this to make a truly national model. We think that there is a significant opportunity for us to do this in West and North also. That we think is a big plus,” he added.
Terming the merger as “a marriage almost made to order for both parties”, Kotak said that the balance sheet on combined basis would be Rs 2 lakh crore and the market cap will be over Rs one lakh crore.
Kotak said that consolidation is very important in Indian banking industry. “To finance India’s future financing needs, you need banks of size and this is one step towards that.
“If you look at private banking sector, we will be fourth largest and we see a significant upside. We are very well capitalised and we would not need any additional capital and therefore there is no plans to have any dilution in short to medium term. Our ability to grow is significant.
“The key thing and our internal mantra is bigger, bolder and better. Around this theme, we want to build a financial institution out of India which the country should be proud of. Size is important, but the quality of a financial institution in terms of what it does is also very important,” he said.
“We are going to position ourselves as a world-class financial institution. We want to do things that are comparable to the best in the world. At the same time, we want to have a very strong human qualities. On combined basis, we would have 40,000 employees,” he said.
When asked whether there could be any job cuts, he said, “The core of our business strategy is growth and building business synergies and it is not around reckless cost cutting at all. That is not the focus of what we want to do.
“We do not believe that there will be a situation where we will have an inability to provide our people growth opportunities. We will have enough potential to provide growth opportunities to our people across all segments and regions.
“The other big advantage we have is that in addition to the bank, we have securities firm, life insurance etc and we feel our employees are pretty movable across all businesses.
“So, opportunities for people in post-merger situation will significantly increase. And we have committed to long-term opportunity creation for our employees.”
Asked if there would be more hirings when the merged bank expands into new areas, he said, “Yes, it will be the case over time. As we introduce new products, we will need more people for that.”
“Our first philosophy at the combined entity will be to first seek new opportunities for existing people and therefore only we will look out. So, first we will give internal people a chance,” he said.