Saraswat Bank has no plans to go commercial: Thakur

Talking to reporters in Mumbai Chairman Gautam Thakur of Saraswat Cooperative Bank the largest urban cooperative bank in the country has once again reiterated that the UCB has no plans to convert itself into a commercial bank.

Reiterating what he had said to Indian Cooperative a year ago and reported in these columns titled” Co-op is in my DNA” (http://www.indiancooperative.com/featured/co-operative-is-in-my-dna-gautam-thakur/) Thakur told the assembled media that the UCB has been working in the cooperative fold for more than 100 years and that the spirit of cooperative has become part of its DNA.

“Instead, we would like to have stronger bottom-line with a healthy loan book”, writes PTI quoting Thakur. In the 99th AGM held recently Saraswat Co-op Bank registered a growth of 57% per cent in its profit. The total business mix of the bank increased from Rs 51, 861.95 crore as on 31st March 2016 to Rs 55,273.49 crore as on 31st March 2017. Its business growth thus was at 6.58 percent this year.

An astute banker Thakur is well aware of the limitations of both the cooperative fold as well as the commercial one and he would decide for the one which suits his purpose, said a Nafcub Director. “If capital is a problem in the UCB fold, identity would be an issue if he jumps on the commercial bandwagon and given the comfortable situation of a capital adequacy of 14 per cent he sees no motivation in shifting to the commercial category, underlined a cooperator on the condition of anonymity.

Thakur scotched all speculation doing the rounds in the cooperative circles of Saraswat Bank ever trying to switch sides- a job Mukund Abhyankar of Cosmos Bank failed to do which ultimately cost him his President-ship of the apex body NAFCUB. Abhyankar was member of the R Gandhi Panel which suggested conversion of UCBs if they wish to grow. Nafcub Directors resented Abhyankar’s tacit acceptance of the idea and his inability to write a note of dissent, ultimately forcing him to quit the top post.

The idea of leaving the cooperative fold is not attractive for Saraswat Bank as it is not only number one in the UCB segment but also in the entire cooperative sector in the country with a business mix of more than Rs 50 thousand crore, say cooperators.

“We have mapped capital adequacy for the next few years and have found that we’re comfortable,” Gautam Thakur said, adding it’s resorting to raising tier-II capital from under the long- term deposits where it mopped up Rs 250 crore in FY17, quotes PTI.

Saraswat Bank is planning a mega bash when it completes 100 glorious years of its existence. The grand show will be kicked off next week, said Thakur.

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