PNB to focus on self-service, automation to deal with COVID-19 challenges: Rao

NEW DELHI, July 13: Punjab National Bank proposes to accelerate self-service and focus on automation with a view to optimise processes, employees and workplace and thus deal with the challenges following the outbreak of coronavirus, the lender said in a message to shareholders.
“The current crisis will steer the banking industry to remote working which is likely to shape the cost structure in the days ahead”, PNB’s MD and CEO S S Mallikarjuna Rao said in a letter to shareholders.
He noted that MSME, agriculture, agro-based industries, healthcare, among others, present ample opportunities for growth and lending.
“The bank will accelerate self-service and automation initiatives through greater focus on technology to foster optimisation of processes, employee and workplace,” he said.
Rao said 2019-20 started with an overarching goal towards ‘Year of Profitability and Creating Value’, leaving the adversities of the previous financial year behind.
In the last financial year, PNB’s operating profit increased year-on-year by 13.4 per cent to Rs 14,739 crore. After a gap of two years, the bank registered a net profit of Rs 336 crore for 2019-20.
On amalgamation of two public sector banks — Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India — into PNB with effect from April 1, 2020, Rao said the amalgamation process provides significant benefits to PNB and its customers besides providing scale and growth.
“The amalgamation has propelled the bank to the position of the second largest pubic sector bank in the country and will enable us to realise operational, revenue and cost synergies,” he told shareholders.
On way forward for PNB, he said the bank’s prime goal will be to strengthen the balance sheet, which will create a foundation for sustainable profitability going ahead.
“The bank will continue its focus on asset quality management and capital improvement in the post- pandemic environment, apart from continuing the accelerated momentum in recovery, product leadership, technology, efficiency, and small ticket lending,” Rao said.
Going forward, he said PNB’s endeavour will be to enhance value through multipronged digital transformation strategy and greater focus on better underwriting prudence and risk controls.
He said the bank is considerably strengthened with the amalgamation. “As a bigger entity, we have revamped our products and delivery channels. It is our mission to build a global size, future-ready institution which will substantially contribute to the country’s growth,” Rao said.
He exuded confidence that in its new avatar, PNB 2.0 will scale still greater heights and contiune its growth trajectory. The 19th Annual General Meeting of the shareholders of PNB will be held on August 4. The bank will seek shareholders’ nod for raising equity capital of up to Rs 7,000 crore. (PTI)