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ICICI Bank chairman assures of top priority to best governance practices

With ICICI Bank facing controversies involving CEO Chanda Kochhar, its newly appointed Chairman Girish Chandra Chaturvedi has assured shareholders that he would give top priority to upholding the best governance practices.

He expressed hope that uncertainties would be resolved at the earliest.

The bank has appointed an independent enquiry committee on the allegations of quid pro quo and conflict of interest against Kochhar with respect to a loan given to Videocon group.

Pending the enquiry, headed by former Supreme Court Judge B N Srikrishna, Kochhar has gone on a long leave from June.

In the recent months, the bank has faced questions with regard to governance, Chaturvedi said in the Chairman’s message to shareholders in the bank’s annual report for 2017-18.

“The board of directors have instituted an enquiry to examine issues relating to the same. The scope of enquiry will be comprehensive and we hope to conclude the uncertainties relating to the issue at the earliest,” Chaturvedi said.

“It will be my topmost priority to uphold the best governance practices at this esteemed institution,” he added.

The bank had appointed the former bureaucrat as its new non-executive part-time Chairman in late June.

Chaturvedi, 65, replaced former Chairman M K Sharma whose term ended on June 30, 2018.

The country’s largest private sector lender registered its first ever loss in more than a decade at Rs 120 crore in the first quarter of the current fiscal due to higher provisioning for bad loans.

It had posted a net profit of Rs 2,049 crore in the April-June period of last fiscal.

In 2017-18, the bank had posted a net profit of Rs 6,777 crore. However, its gross bad loans by end-March 2018 remained at an elevated level of 8.84 of gross advances by that period, translating into Rs 54,063 crore.

“ICICI Bank has seen its share of challenges in the recent past due to the elevated level of non-performing assets (NPAs) but has been dealing with them in the best interest of all stakeholders,” Chaturvedi said.

He said the bank has continued to focus on improving its portfolio mix, resolving stressed assets and enhancing its customer franchise.

Lauding the Reserve Bank’s initiative of mandating referral of large NPAs for resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, the Chairman said these are welcome steps aimed at accelerating resolution of existing stressed loans as well as enhancing credit discipline and proactive resolution on a sustained basis going forward.

Separately, in her message to shareholders, Kochhar said in the report that the retail segment would remain the key driver of growth, with segments like business banking, credit cards and personal loans growing at a higher pace off a lower base, while home loans would continue to be the largest part of the portfolio.

“In the past four years, the bank has made significant progress in de-risking the balance sheet and continued to enhance the franchise,” she added.

ICICI Bank’s tier-I capital adequacy ratio stood at 15.92 per cent and the total capital adequacy at 18.42 per cent by end-March 2018, both well above the regulatory requirements.

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