India's largest bank has a whopping Rs 90,000 crore of loans in the written-off category, besides a rising stockpile of gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of Rs 1,99,141 crore, or 10.38% of its advances.
SBI calls the written-off category as Auca (accounts under collection accounts).
A senior SBI official said, "We have a loan outstanding of about Rs 90,000 crore in the Auca account, from which we are recovering about Rs 1,400 crore every quarter. We are launching one-time settlement schemes to recover money from these and other accounts."
Once 100% provisions are made for these accounts, it is taken off the bank's balance-sheet. This means it has provisions equivalent to the loan amount in its books, the official said. Every time there is a recovery from these accounts, it gets added to the bank's profit.
During the current financial year until December 2017, the bank transferred Rs 31,746 crore as written-off, or Auca, account. This is higher than the Rs 27,757 crore it added in the whole of fiscal 2017.
On Friday, SBI reported net loss of Rs 2,416 crore during the quarter, with the biggest hit coming from the need to provide Rs 6,000 crore for under-reported NPAs and fresh slippages, despite a tax write back of Rs 4,500 crore in the quarter.
Adding to SBI's woes was the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) audit unearthing of Rs 23,239 crore of under-reported NPAs at the end of March 2017. The NPA divergence is the highest for any bank so far. But most of the divergence was from the bank's watch list of stressed assets.
With advances of Rs 19.5 lakh crore, this is but a fraction of SBI's advances. "Even then, the quantum of under reporting is substantial," an analyst tracking the banking sector said.
Explaining the high divergence figure, the bank said that Rs 2,835 is already recognised as NPA in the June quarter while Rs 4,338 crore was upgraded to the standard assets. The remaining amount was tagged as bad loans in the quarter ended December 2017.
In the third quarter, SBI made a loan loss provision of Rs 17,760 crore compared to Rs 9,662 crore a year ago. Provision coverage ratio improved to 65.92% at the end of December, from 58.96% a year ago.
Asutosh Kumar Mishra, senior research analyst at Reliance Securities, said, "SBI negatively surprised with elevated slippages to the tune of Rs 25,800 crore, which is 143% higher over the preceding quarter. This is led by substantially higher divergence as highlighted by RBI in the annual supervision audit for FY17."
SBI was also hit in the quarter by the Rs 3,400 crore it had to park as mark-to-market provision for its treasury book inflicted by a rise in yields. Besides, the bank set aside Rs 700 crore for employee wage revisions, which are under negotiations.
"However, the overall stressed assets ratio including gross NPA along with all types of standard restructured loan book and corporate watch list has reduced to 13% in December 2017 as compared to 13.8% in September 17 and 14.5% in June 2017," Misra said.