Arun Tiwari, about to complete 42 months as chairman and managing director of government-owned Union Bank of India, to Abhijit Lele on current challenges. Edited excerpts:
Union Bank has been able to report net profit for all quarters during and after the Asset Quality Review in 2015-16. Beside handling of stressed accounts, did limited exposure to large-ticket cases also help?
Correct. Always at the back of my mind is the prescriptive limits for single party exposure or sector exposure. The single party limit might be Rs 5,000 crore but for a particular borrower we might not go beyond, say, Rs 1,000 crore. We have to be prudent in decisions. We don’t have to take exposure up to the Reserve Bank’s set limit.
Are we still struggling to find a solution for resolution of stressed assets?
If 10-12 coaches of a train get derailed ,it takes time to get these back on track. Being in an out-of-sync situation for three-four years, the curation period will also be longer.
We are now in the last fortnight of the first quarter of the current financial year. Broadly, how were these three months in terms of performance?
During my tenure, look back at every quarter. We have stuck to the guidance (forecast) that we gave. Last year, growth in the MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) portfolio was about five% for the sector but our bank’s grew by 8.5%. The combined share of retail (individual), agriculture and MSME in the total loan book was around 37% three years ago. It is now 54-56%.