On the heels of the Cabinet approval for the merger into State Bank of India (SBI) of its five associate banks, the public lender on Thursday said there are no wage-related issues with the employees in the process. "No wage-related issues right now. They can retain what they receive at this point of time or they will be offered a wage package according to the SBI standards. They will have a choice to retain theirs, or accept the SBI one," SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya told reporters in Mumbai in a briefing. Talking about the effective date of the merger, the SBI chief said that it was likely to happen in the next financial year (FY) and the exact date would be notified by the government. "Notification from the government will give the effective date of the merger. The merger may happen in next FY (2017-18) after the closure of books," she said. The combined entity post-merger will have over 23,000 branches with 2.71 lakh employees. "However, the government shareholding will not go down after the merger," Bhattacharya said. The merger will see increased synergies in terms of combining of treasuries, head offices, administration staff, auditors, licences and efficiency of costs. "There will be increased synergies. The first thing that will get merged is treasuries. Instead of six, we will have one treasury. Head offices will get merged, though some head offices may work as regional offices," she said. "Administration staff may get deployed in direct operations. Some may look after new businesses.
Synergies will be immediately visible in terms of large accounts and efficiency of costs. Instead of six sets of auditors, six sets of licences, six roll-outs of products, there will be a lot of efficiency," she added.The process would also not involve great costs, she said. "We will not incur great costs because there is no consultant for the purpose. Some costs will be on account of shifting, closures and opening, but not very huge." Talking about digital transactions, she said that there was a noticeable drop post-demonetisation as the cash in the economy had substantially increased. "We have seen a fall-off in digital transaction numbers. What we saw at the height of demonetisation has now come down. That is because cash has come back. There need to be some incentives for digitisation. But it is not worrying, as it was expected," she said. "But digital transactions happening today are much more than what we were doing pre-demonetisation," she added.