Much-anticipated interviews to select new SBI chief deferred indefinitely

The Financial Services Institutions Bureau (FSIB), an autonomous body, was scheduled to conduct the interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday
State Bank of India.
State Bank of India.File Photo | EPS

MUMBAI: The much-anticipated interviews for selecting the next chairman of the nation’s largest lender State Bank of India, scheduled for yesterday and today, have been deferred for unspecified reasons.

The incumbent chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara retires on 28 August and his successor normally assumes charge the same day.

The Financial Services Institutions Bureau (FSIB), an autonomous body, was scheduled to conduct interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday and recommend a candidate for the chairman's post by Wednesday itself.

Typically the SBI chairman is appointed from the four serving managing directors of the bank based on the recommendation of the FSIB and the final decision is taken by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister.

As source in the SBI told The New Indian Express that late on Monday, the bank received a notice about the postponement of the interview schedules without offering any reason or the next date.

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It is likely that the new schedules may be announced only after the Lok Sabha elections.

The four managing directors of the SBI are CS Setty, Ashwini Kumar Tewari, Vinay M Tonse and Alok Kumar Choudhary. But Choudhary is not eligible as he is retiring on June 30. The rule mandates at least one year of service left.

Headed by Bhanu Pratap Sharma, former secretary of the department of personnel and training, the FSIB is responsible for appointing senior executives to public sector financial institutions. The recommendations go to the appointments committee of the cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, for final approval. The SBI chairman’s appointment is done through a cabinet order and the gazette notification.

The bank has vastly improved its financial performance under Khara. Since he took charge as the chairman on October 7, 2020 for a three-year term which was extended till August 28, 2024 as he turns 63 by then, the share price has zoomed from Rs 250 to Rs 820. It is now the third most valuable bank and the most valued public sector entity in terms of market capitalisation.

The bank posted a record net profit of Rs 20,698 crore for the March quarter, becoming the most profitable company in the quarter. Asset quality is the best in 10 years, with net non-performing assets as a percentage of total assets coming in at 0.57% of total assets, compared to 1.23 percent when Khara took charge. The SBI's bad loan portfolio stood at Rs 84,276 crore as of March 2024.

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