Fitch Ratings: Large and Mid-sized Indian Private Banks Poised to Gain More Market Share

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(The following statement was released by the rating agency) Fitch Ratings-Mumbai-03 September 2020: Indian private banks, which have stronger loss-absorption buffers than the public sector banks, are likely to gain market share from their state-owned peers in the medium term, says Fitch Ratings. Private banks’ loss absorption buffers, in particular enhanced capital bases, strengthen their ability to recognise losses up-front with less disruption in their efforts to accelerate market-share gains. However, we do not expect immediate gains as the sector’s credit growth is likely to remain subdued, and will only resume meaningfully once a sustained recovery from the pandemic gets underway. Indian private banks have had a decade of strong growth, reflected in much higher loan CAGR of 19.6% compared with state banks’ 8.5%, backed by better capitalisation and fewer asset quality problems. Private banks increased their market shares by 14.4pp and 18.5pp by assets and loans, respectively, at the expense of state-owned counterparts during this time. Most of the gains occurred in the five years preceding the coronavirus pandemic as state banks were hamstrung by ballooning impaired loans, larger losses and weaker capitalisation. Nonetheless, private banks’ risk appetite in some sectors has been significant during this time, which has contributed to the downward trajectory in their Viability Ratings (VRs) in the last two years. Their larger risk appetites in certain segments render their intrinsic credit profiles more vulnerable to deterioration in the operating environment, such as what we see now. The government-led merger (https://www.fitchratings.com/site/pr/10088971) of state-owned banks helped them to consolidate their market positions in the last few years, but the state-owned banks’ market shares will continue to erode if they do not raise adequate capital to absorb future stress and support growth. Some Indian banks have raised capital after the Reserve Bank of India implored banks to raise fresh equity. However, the capital-raising has been limited thus far to private banks, which collectively raised USD6.3 billion in the past three months. While state banks have announced their intentions to raise fresh equity, they have not gone further than routine board approvals nor given clear indications on the timelines, except for a few banks. This is despite the need to expedite improvement in the state banks’ capital positions, which we believe remain vulnerable to varying degrees to future stress and unexpected losses. State banks’ capital positions weakened during the quarter ended June 2020 (1QFY21) mainly due to the adverse impact of USD4.4 billion from mergers on the acquiring state banks, which eroded common equity Tier 1 (CET1) ratios by an average of around 170bp. At the same time, private banks added 165-220bp to their CET1 ratios, which averaged at 14.8% at FYE20. As a result, the gap between private banks’ and state banks’ CET1 ratios widened to 637bp from 474bp at end-December 2020. Without adequate capital, state banks may be forced to curtail growth because their financial statements do not yet fully reflect the impact of the pandemic on asset quality due to regulatory relief measures that have delayed non-performing loan (NPL) recognition. This gap between reported financials and economic reality is reflected in the sector’s declining impaired loan ratio of 8.4% at the end of 1QFY21 (FYE20: 8.5%), which was mainly driven by a 75% yoy decline in new NPLs and aggressive write-offs. However, credit growth was negative (-1.4% for 1QFY21), reflecting the prevailing risk aversion amid heightened stress in the banking system. Fitch believes that the moderate recovery in banks’ return on assets to 0.50%, from 0.20% at FYE20, is not sustainable in the foreseeable future, as NPLs will start to increase in 3QFY21, which will mostly affect those banks with weaker capitalisation by further pressuring their intrinsic creditworthiness. Fitch took rating action on several banks’ VRs in early May 2020 and is likely to review them again towards end-2020. State-owned banks’ VRs would remain under further rating pressure if the capital positions of individual banks are not sufficient to withstand the negative effects of the pandemic on asset quality and growth. Indian banks’ IDRs are support-driven and are therefore anchored to India’s sovereign rating (BBB-/Negative). Fitch’s report (https://www.fitchratings.com/site/pr/10128197) in July 2020 estimated that Indian banks will require between USD15 billion and USD58 billion in fresh equity over the next years under various stress scenarios, with the bulk of it required by the state-owned banks. Contact: Prakash Pandey Associate Director – Banks +91 22 4000 1773 Fitch Ratings, Wockhardt (NS:) Towers Level 4, West Wing Plot C-2 G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex Bandra East, Mumbai – 400 051 Saswata Guha Director – Financial Institutions +91 22 4000 1741 Media Relations: Bindu Menon, Mumbai, Tel: +91 22 4000 1727, Email: [email protected] Wai Lun Wan, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2263 9935, Email: [email protected] Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTPS://WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY’S PUBLIC WEB SITE AT WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA, AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH’S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE, AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE CODE OF CONDUCT SECTION OF THIS SITE. DIRECTORS AND SHAREHOLDERS RELEVANT INTERESTS ARE AVAILABLE AT HTTPS://WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM/SITE/REGULATORY. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE. Copyright © 2020 by Fitch Ratings, Inc., Fitch Ratings Ltd. and its subsidiaries. 33 Whitehall Street, NY, NY 10004. Telephone: 1-800-753-4824, (212) 908-0500. 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