Nearly 200 LVB branches were loss-making, 100 unviable: Ex-Director

The superseded board of the 94-year-old Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) was supposed to meet on November 18 and was close to taking a decision on the deal proposed by the Clix group of companies, said a member of the old board of directors.

Board member Shakti Sinha also said, for a bank of LVB's size, its 563 branch network was huge and nearly 200 of them were loss-making and about 100 were unviable.

However, on November 17 evening, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) took series of decisions - superseding the LVB board, appointing an administrator, putting the bank under one month moratorium with a cap on withdrawals and also coming out with its decision to amalgamate the bank with DBS Bank India, subsidiary of DBS Bank, Singapore almost free of cost.

"The LVB board was supposed to meet on Wednesday/Nov 18. We were close to a decision on the Clix group proposal," Sinha told IANS.

The Clix group comprises Clix Capital Services Private Ltd, Clix Finance India Private Ltd and Clix Housing Finance Private Ltd.

According to Sinha, the difference in negotiations had come down with Clix group.

Sinha said when the three Clix companies would have brought in a loan book of about Rs 4,200 crore, which, in turn, would increase the capital adequacy ratio (CAR).

There would have been no fresh capital infusion by Clix group into the LVB, Sinha said.

Noting that they felt "nearly two-thirds of Clix loan books were not banking compatible", he declined to comment whether the then board would have taken a decision in favour of the Clix deal.

Sinha also said two other NBFCs and private banks showed interest in the LVB.

Queried about LVB's 563 branch network, Sinha said for a bank of its size it was huge and nearly 200 of them were making loss making.

"Nearly 100 branches were unviable. In these days of digital banking there is all the possibility of DBS Bank India rationalising LVB's branch network as well as the number of staff. The business per employee in the case of LVB was low compared to its peers," he said.

He said there is every possibility of DBS Bank India going in for rationalisation of branch network and staff and saving on rent and salaries at a future date.

A majority of the branches were taken on lease.

According to him, the bank had filed several cases against defaulting borrowers and the recovery rate was about 30 per cent of the loan size.

Sinha said what could be faulted with the RBI's proposed amalgamation with DBS Bank India was the announcement of moratorium and the terms of reference for the amalgamation.

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