was on Wednesday named the new chairman of State Bank of India
(SBI), the country’s biggest lender. He would take over from current Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya, who will complete her four-year term on Friday.
Kumar, 59, is at present one of the four managing directors at SBI, looking after the National
Banking Group — which covers the retail, SME and agriculture business verticals. He had joined the lender in 1980. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved his appointment as the SBI
chairman for a period of three years from the date of taking over the charge on or after October 7, an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.
Tackling the issue of ongoing resolution of bad loans and human resources to ensure smooth functioning of operations after the merger of associate banks will be the two top priorities throughout his innings. Supporting growth through increased lending would also figure prominently on agenda, SBI
group executives said.
He is seen more as a doer with a focus on action, said a middle-level SBI
Kumar faces the daunting task of addressing the issue of massive NPAs of the bank. Gross NPAs of public sector banks rose to Rs 6.41 lakh crore at the end of March 2017 as against Rs 5.02 lakh crore a year ago, according to a Finance Ministry data. As many as 1,762 wilful defaulters owed Rs 25,104 crore to SBI
as of March 31, 2017, it said. SBI
and its erstwhile associates alone wrote off Rs 27,574 crore of NPAs in 2016-17, according to RBI data.
Kumar will begin his innings with a comfortable capital base as the bank raised about Rs 15,000 crore of equity capital through QIP in the June quarter.
Kumar joined the SBI
board on May 26, 2015. Prior to this appointment, he was Managing Director —Compliance and Risk, and Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of SBI
Capital Markets Limited, the merchant banking arm of the bank, according to his biodata. He had earlier served as chief general manager, project finance and leasing strategic business unit, it said.