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Once city of banks, Kolkata may have one PSU bank headquarter

Now Kolkata could soon be left with just one HQ of a state-run lender — UCO Bank.

Aug 31, 2019, 11.16 AM IST
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Following Friday’s announcement of big ticket bank mergers, Kolkata is most likely to lose the headquarters of two state-run banks —UBI and Allahabad Bank.
(This story originally appeared in on Aug 31, 2019)
Kolkata: During the pre-Independence era, there had been more bank headquarters in Kolkata than any other Indian city, except Mumbai. Now Kolkata could soon be left with just one HQ of a state-run lender — UCO Bank. Following Friday’s announcement of big ticket bank mergers, the capital of West Bengal is most likely to lose the headquarters of two state-run banks — United Bank of India (UBI) and Allahabad Bank.

Way back in 1923, Allahabad Bank had shifted its headquarters from Allahabad to Kolkata, the then capital of united Bengal. The bank was formed in 1865 but its operations were shifted to the City of Joy because, at that point of time, Mumbai and Calcutta (as this city was known earlier) were the two financial capitals of British India.

UBI was formed in 1950 with the merger of 14 private banks before it was nationalised in 1969. The bank was originally formed with the amalgamation of four banks — Comilla Banking Corporation (1914), Bengal Central Bank (1918), Comilla Union Bank (1922) and Hooghly Bank (1932).

Imperial Bank, the predecessor of State Bank of India (SBI), too, was based out of Kolkata.

A top official of Allahabad Bank told TOI on Friday that Indian Bank would be the anchor bank as far as merger of Allahabad Bank is concerned. As a result, the main decision-making may be shifted to Chennai.

The merged bank would be 7th largest in the country. “The core business solution used by UBI and Allahabad Bank is the same. Besides, there is an operational synergy between these two banks. Indian Bank is strong in South, while Allahabad Bank has more presence in east and north, basically the Gangetic plane,” the official added.

Allahabad Bank now has a total business of Rs 3.77 lakh crore and in the first quarter of this fiscal, it was back in the black with Rs 128 crore profit after a loss in the same period of the last fiscal.

An official of UBI said that this would be a win-win situation for both PNB and UBI. As against 174 branches, Rs 147crore of deposits and Rs 112crore of advances at the time of nationalisation in July, 1969, UBI is 100% CBS-enabled with 1999 branches and offices and is having a total business of more than Rs 2 lakh crore.

However, in recent years, Kolkata has gained its first HQ of a private sector lender — the newbie, Bandhan Bank.

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