MUMBAI: Private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank has a “small exposure” to the embattled Adani Group which has been made in line with its credit philosophy, a senior official has said. Paritosh Kashyap, president and head for wholesale banking at Kotak Mahindra Bank, said the issues surrounding Adani Group are more of a “capital market and valuations issue and not a credit issue.”
“We have a small exposure to the group. We do business with every corporate in the country, and our exposures are in line with our credit philosophy and size of our balance sheet,” Kashyap told PTI in an interaction.
He said operating companies in the group have “reasonable leverage”, coupled with strong profitability and balance sheets.
It can be noted that a report by the US short-seller had called Adani as the biggest con in corporate history, making wide-ranging allegations on governance practices among other aspects to say that the stocks are overvalued by 85 per cent.
The publishing of the report in late January led to a rout in Adani group’s listed entities, and also made investors nervous about banks initially as they feared a ripple effect to play out on the banks who have exposure to the group.
The RBI has launched a special examination of the banking system’s exposures to Adani Group entities, and Governor Shaktikanta Das has said that a single case cannot impact the broader banking system.
According to experts, the Indian banks’ exposures are to operative companies and not against shares at the listed holding company level.
This is so because in most of the cases barring asset buys by infrastructure companies, Indian banks are not allowed to lend more than Rs 20 lakh as loans against shares, which has come in as a helpful regulatory mandate.
Since the controversy broke out, banks and financial institutions, especially the ones controlled by the state, have come out with commentaries and details of their exposures to Adani Group in a bid to assuage concerns.
Country’s largest lender SBI has said its overall exposure to Adani Group is Rs 27,000 crore and it has not extended any loan against shares to the group.
Life insurance behemoth LIC has said its overall exposure is over Rs 35,000 crore, with a large part of it being in equity investments which have suffered alongside the rout in stocks, and some reports pegging the valuations dipping below the purchase price as well.
Kashyap said the overall wholesale banking book is bereft of any stress for Kotak Mahindra Bank and also expressed concerns about the lack of any stress emerging for over seven years now.
“As a segment, I can’t say any one which has a stress,” he said, adding that the bank is open to doing business with segments like infrastructure, real estate and lending to non-banks, which is otherwise considered as prone to stress.