RBI says domestic banks' exposure to Adani group not very significant, single case can't impact system

Domestic banks’ exposure to the Adani Group is “not very significant”, and the system is strong and large enough to not get impacted by a single case, the Reserve Bank said on Wednesday.

Replying to a specific question on whether the RBI will give any guidance to lenders on their exposures to the Adani group, given certain flags raised by rating agencies, Deputy Governor M.K. Jain said the domestic banks’ exposures are “not very significant” and termed the exposures against shares as “insignificant”.

“Our domestic banks’ exposure is against the underlying assets, the operating cash flows and the projects under implementation. And not based on the market capitalisation,” Mr. Jain said while speaking to reporters at the customary post-policy review press conference.

Governor Shaktikanta Das said the RBI has made its own assessments and found that its large exposure guidelines, which cap exposures to a single company or a group, are fully complied with by all the lenders.

“…the strength, the size and the resilience of the Indian banking system now are much stronger and larger to be affected by an individual incident or a case like this,” he added.

In the last fortnight, a short seller research firm in the U.S. came out with a report on the Adani Group, accusing the conglomerate of severe shortcomings in governance.

The Ahmedabad-based group has denied all the allegations, but the market price of the group companies’ shares has taken a severe beating, losing as much as half their value. Fearing a risk to banks because of their exposures. Banks’ shares also witnessed sell-offs.

Mr. Das made it clear that a bank’s lending calls are not done on the market capitalisation of a company, but take into account the fundamentals of a company, the cash flows expected and other factors that come up in an appraisal process.

He said that the loan appraisal process at banks has also undergone improvements over the last few years, and listed out the steps taken to improve the governance and resilience of banks.

These include guidelines on governance, audit committees, risk management committees and making it mandatory to appoint chief risk officers and chief compliance officers, Mr. Das said.

He said the banking system is “stable and continues to be strong” in a reiteration of the proactive statement on the developments at the Adani Group, which the central bank had put out last Friday.

When asked if the RBI will prod banks to up the standard asset provisioning at the group, Mr. Das said Indian banks are very prudent, and the individual bank management will take their own decisions on whether to set aside additional money.

Replying to the same question on provisioning, Mr. Das also asked everybody to look at the situation “objectively”.

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