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India’s ICICI Bank extremely healthy, CEO says

Posted by Yogesh on Friday, 19 September, 2008

MUMBAI, Sept 19 (Reuters) – ICICI Bank, India’s second largest lender, is extremely healthy and has ample capital, it chief executive said on Friday to try to allay fears about the bank’s exposure to the global credit turmoil.

ICICI had made full disclosure of its exposure and the impact of troubled assets would be minimal on its profit and balance sheets, K.V. Kamath said.

“I just want to reiterate ICICI Bank is an extremely healthy institution,” he told television news channels. “We literally doubled our capital last year. It is sitting with us.”

The bank has a net worth of 470 billion rupees ($10.2 billion), he said.

ICICI shares fell more than 22 percent in the seven session ended Wednesday on concerns about its exposure to the global financial crisis system could hurt it.

The stock hit a two-month low on Thursday before recovering to end the day up 2.8 percent. At 0814 GMT on Friday, the shares had risen another 6.5 percent to 613 rupees in a Mumbai market that was up 4.6 percent

“Indian banks are in a different position, and indeed ICICI Bank, being an Indian bank with limited exposure to the global market place, a strong balance sheet and a strong capital adequacy position, is different from a global bank,” he said

On Thursday, ICICI’s joint managing director, Chanda Kochhar, said the bank’s total exposure to foreign markets was equal to about 4 percent of its total balance sheet and bank could still post healthy profits and maintain capital adequacy.

ICICI, with total consolidated assets of $103 billion, said on Tuesday said it held 57 million euros ($81 million) of senior bonds issued by Lehman Brothers, and would increase its provision on the debt by about $28 million to cover half of that exposure.

Brokerage Edelweiss Capital has said it expected ICICI to post about $200 million in losses on bonds, including debt issued by Lehman.

Kamath, who is also chairman of industry body Confederation of Indian Industry, also said a economic slowdown was unlikely to spark a surge in non-performing loans in the industry immediately.

Earlier, the chairman of State Bank of India, the country’s biggest bank, said at a conference in Bhavnagar in west India that it had a $5 million exposure to Lehman and expected to recover 60-70 percent of that, the bank’s press relations agency said. Source Reuters

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