Free Press Journal

ICICI Bank’s net profit down by 45%, Chanda Kochhar gives no answers


Mumbai: The ICICI Bank has reported its smallest profit in seven quarters – in fact, there was a 45 per cent decline in consolidated net profit in the fourth quarter. The results have come out against the backdrop of a series of allegations of impropriety in extending loans to some companies and charges of conflict of interest against managing director and chief executive Chanda Kochhar.

Yet, Kochhar said the bank did not need to disclose any additional bad loans for the last financial year after a central bank audit of its books. She did not give details of the audit but said it was below the threshold set by the Reserve Bank of India for banks to report so-called divergence in bad loans. She admitted provisioning for bad loans was up but insisted that bad loan additions were slowing.

Also, there was no discussion on such pressing matters as the controversial lending to Videocon. “Today, there was no discussion at all on this issue. The board has already clarified its stance,” Kochhar said, when asked whether the matter was discussed. Asked about the silence maintained by her as well as the bank, even though details of the alleged misdoings are

being reported, Kochhar referred to the March 28 statement from the board which stood firmly behind her. “The board has made its stance very clear and we do not have anything more to add,” Kochhar, who was speaking after the announcement of the bank’s full-year results, said.

She also confirmed that government nominee Lok Ranjan, a joint secretary in the department of financial services, was not able to attend the board meeting. The CEO also termed the board meeting scheduled for Tuesday as a “routine” affair, where the top decision-making body will decide on its strategy and targets for the fiscal.

When asked about the dent to the brand and changes in working after the controversy, Kochhar pointed out to the growth in deposits, which rose 14 per cent in FY18. “As you see, deposits speak for itself. I think we have a very strong deposit franchise, technology franchise and that continues to remain strong,” she said.