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Purwar appointed State Bank chief

Mumbai, Nov. 13: There’s a new man at the helm of the country’s largest bank. The State Bank of India finally got a chairman today in the form of A. K. Purwar.

Purwar, who was the chairman of the State Bank of Patiala, a wholly owned subsidiary of SBI, takes over from Janki Ballabh who retired on October 31, a senior official said.

Unlike his predecessors, Purwar is expected to be around for quite some time, remaining chairman until May 31, 2006. “Purwar’s tenure is expected to be the longest for any head,” the SBI official said.

Incidentally, the terms of most chiefs since the mid-90s have ranged from two months to two-and-a-half years.

Shortly after his appointment, Purwar said SBI’s main thrust would be on retail banking and upgradation of technology. He said efforts would also be made to leverage synergies of the seven associate banks. He was speaking at the launch of “SBI Cash Plus”, a debit card, which allows customers to access their deposit accounts from ATMs and merchant establishments.

The bank’s managing director (national banking) P. N. Venkatachalam said apart from housing loans where it sees additional growth, the bank would now look at merchandise acquisition as there was plenty of business potential in this area.

The bank has of late focussed on the retail and housing loan sectors to infuse life into its disbursements—a change in strategy sorely felt after demand from the industrial sector tapered off.

Venkatachalam said SBI’s existing members networked to the existing ATM cards would be automatically upgraded into the new debit cards.

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