The Telegraph
Monday , January 13 , 2014
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Iran banks line up for accounts with Uco

Kaul: Growth push

Calcutta, Jan. 12: Uco Bank is planning to open accounts of more Iranian banks to facilitate bilateral trade payments between the two countries.

“We have already opened accounts for six Iranian banks. Four more have approached us and we have sought the RBI’s approval for opening their accounts. So we will have accounts of 10 Iranian banks with us,” said Arun Kaul, chairman of Uco Bank.

He said the RBI approval was expected to come within a few weeks, following which the accounts would be created.

Parsian Bank, Bank Pasargad, EN Bank and Saman Bank are some of the major Iranian lenders who hold account with the city-based bank.

Uco handles the payments of India-Iran bilateral trade, particularly oil. After the imposition of the US sanction against Iran, India and the West Asian country had formulated a payment arrangement whereby Indian refiners partly paid for Iranian crude in rupees in the accounts with Uco.

The US has recently eased the sanctions, but the payment system in rupee remains.

Indian exporters in turn are paid out of the rupee deposits in those accounts for commodities such as rice, tea and pharmaceuticals, which are imported by Iran.

NPA check

Kaul said in the coming quarters Uco would be able to lower its gross non-performing asset (NPA) ratio from 5.3 per cent of total advances in the quarter ended September 30, 2013.

“Over the previous four quarters, we have been able to manage our gross NPA ratio around 5 per cent and hopefully going forward it will start coming down because slippages are now lower than the recovery and upgradation,” he said.

Kaul said the bank planned to offload bad loans worth Rs 1,900 crore from 100 accounts, marking the second such sale this fiscal.

The bank is also aggressively increasing its network following a shift in focus to retail banking.

“Major NPAs had come from the large corporate credit since the bank in the past has followed a policy of giving large corporate advances. However, in recent times, we have been extremely selective of the type of borrowers that we pick up and the type of credit that we deliver. This has helped us to de-risk our balance sheet,” he said.