New Delhi : Unfazed by nation-wide public sector bank strike, SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya on Friday said the merger of 5 associate banks and Bhartiya Mahila Bank with the state-owned lender should be over by next March. “People have to understand that the change is inevitable. There have been strikes at many occasions but we have to educate them and take them on board,” she said on the sidelines of the launch SBI’s wealth management offering called ‘SBI Exclusif’. Services at around 80,000 bank branches in the country were hit today as employees of public sector banks went on a one-day strike to protest against the proposed merger of SBI associates with the parent among other issues.
Asked as to when the proposed merger would be complete, Bhattacharya said: “Timeline is around by the end of the financial year (for merger to get over).” On completion, the merger is likely create one of the largest banks in Asia. The merged entity will create a banking behemoth, which can compete with the largest in the world, with an asset base of Rs 37 lakh crore or over USD 555 billion. SBI alone has close to 16,500 branches, including 191 foreign offices, spread across 36 countries, reports PTI.
SBI has five associate banks — State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad. Of these, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Hyderabad are unlisted. The last merger of its associate State Bank of Indore took about 55 weeks, but it would be significantly less this time, the official added. SBI first merged State Bank of Saurashtra with itself in 2008. Two years later, State Bank of Indore was merged. As for SBI Exclusif, SBI chief said it is targeted at the fast-growing affluent segment in the country for wealth management which will come initially free of cost. “SBI Exclusif customers will have access to a dedicated Relationship Manager supported by a team of investment experts to take care of all their banking and investment needs through various channels i.e. in-person, a first of its kind ‘e-Wealth’ channel(remotely via a call or video conversation) or through future ready digital(internet banking/mobile) channels,” he said. The bank had launched the offering in Bengaluru on a pilot basis on January and it rolled out this service in Delhi on Friday.