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United Bank to branch out again

Calcutta, Sept. 30: United Bank of India has decided to expand its branch network after a gap of 20 years. To begin with, the bank will open 10 branches — the first in Sikkim to take advantage of the Silk Route. UBI has asked the Reserve Bank for permission to open branches in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

“The bank has received autonomy from the RBI. Now, we can take our own decisions. The days of closing down branches are over. We will now open up and expand. In the current fiscal, we will open 10 new branches,” chairman and managing director Madhukar said.

At present, the bank has 1299 branches of which nearly 700 are in the east and north-east. “The board has already approved fresh recruitment. We will be submitting our manpower planning programme to the government shortly,” Madhukar said.

The bank has to take permission from the RBI to appoint general managers. The bank can independently recruit up to the deputy general manager level.

Commenting on the credit offtake of the bank, the CMD said that till the first quarter of the current fiscal the credit growth has not been satisfactory. “However, in the second quarter there has been a Rs 800-900 crore growth in the credit portfolio. We hope to achieve a Rs 2,000-crore growth in advances in the current fiscal,” he said.

The newly-formed corporate business group has sanctioned Rs 500 crore in the second half.

To increase agricultural lending, the bank has teamed up with L&T and Eicher Tractors to finance tractors at all the rural and semi-urban branches in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and the North-East. The bank hopes to finance around 1,000 tractors this year.

The bank is also talking to three passenger car manufacturers to provide car finance.

This year, the bank is focusing on its retail credit portfolio which is currently around Rs 800 crore. UBI wants to achieve around Rs 1500 crore by March 2004. The bank recently organised 90 credit awareness camps and has been able to sanction Rs 255 crore through these camps. The bank today launched mobile kiosks to help prospective customers get loans within 24 hours time.

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