The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ICICI Bank rating reaffirms strength

Mumbai, April 14: Credit Rating Information Services of India (Crisil) today reaffirmed its rating on ICICI Bank — another reassurance after the weekend’s panic withdrawals.

The bank was buffeted by a cash pullout of Rs 550 crore (including regular banking transactions), a situation it tackled by utilising a part of its current account balance with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and government securities it holds in excess of the norm.

“This incident highlights issues all banks face under these circumstances including timely availability of system support, operational issues of cash management with large ATM networks and the need to maintain varied sources of liquidity,” the agency said.

A spokesperson for ICICI Bank said while it was normal to record withdrawals of Rs 400 crore, depositors spooked by rumours of feeble finances sucked out Rs 150 crore in Gujarat and Maharashtra last week.

The volume of transactions in Gujarat and Mumbai, where the bank kept itself open on Sunday and Monday, were below normal. This is expected to continue till Tuesday, a holiday on account of Mahavir Jayanti. Deposits are expected to come in from Wednesday.

“Jittery depositors who withdrew their money last weekend are likely to deposit all or a part of the money they had taken back over the next few days,” sources close to the bank said.

To quell fears that stock woes might have blown a hole in its books, the bank issued a statement today saying its total exposure to equity under the proprietary trading portfolio was only Rs 18 crore; exposure to brokers secured by shares was Rs 4 crore on March 31. Non-fund exposure to brokers, net of cash margins/back guarantees from borrowers, was Rs 56 crore.

The obligation to keep 25 per cent of its deposits in the form of gilts as part of the statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) provide added cushion, the bank said. Another 4.75 per cent of its deposits kept in cash with the RBI as part of the cash-reserve ratio (CRR) is also a strong buffer.

The bank, however, said it met demands for withdrawal over the last three days from its own cash resources.

On Sunday, some customers even deposited money in branches in Gujarat, which had seen a flight of cash since Friday. “Banking operations were normal in the country and withdrawals were less than those seen on any normal day. In fact, 90-100 customers deposited money at branches in Gujarat,” a senior bank official said.

The bank, with an assets of Rs 1,00,000 crore, won a Reserve Bank reassurance on Saturday that it was in sound health. On Sunday, the bank said it would probe the chain of events that led up to the panic among depositors.

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