Kolkata: State-run bank mergers are getting a new life after being in suspended animation for two months. With the lockdown being lifted, Punjab National Bank, Union Bank of India, Canara Bank and Indian Bank have begun the pending post-merger relocation and organisational realignment exercise.

Some of the top executives, who were stranded due to lockdown, have begun taking up their new roles and redrawing strategies at head offices, people familiar with the matter said.

However, the realignment and rationalisation of branches are yet to begin, even as field general manager offices started functioning to push credit growth in line with the government objectives.

“We have kept the disruption to the minimum by retaining officials at same or nearby centres as far as possible. Where there is merger of zones, there is certain relocation necessary. Now it will definitely gain momentum with opening up of flights,” said Padmaja Chunduru, chief executive at Indian Bank. However, she said that the organizational restructuring begun even through the Covid period.

PNB, Union Bank, Canara Bank and Indian Bank have turned bigger following the big bank merger involving amalgamation of 10 banks into four effective from April 1. These banks with their larger balance sheet may be capable of lending big but they would be able to exercise their full potential until the post-merger rearrangements become operational on ground.

Some of the realignments could not be completed as the country went into lockdown since March 24 to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. The exercise may take longer than expected as banks have been working with minimum strength since lockdown. The IT-integration is another area where banks are facing challenges due to skeletal staff.

“Organizationally, challenges are more from operating branches, ensuring staff safety and customer service,” Chunduru said, adding that the interoperability system of bank transactions is implemented and bank customers are getting the benefit of it.

Indian Bank will now be under 14 field general managers overseeing 78 zones with “the FGMs are already handling their zones virtually. The bank, after its merger with Kolkata-based Allahabad Bank, has divided the east and the northeast markets into two and assigned FGMs to oversee them.

PNB, on the other hand, has made Kolkata its zonal head office following its merger with Oriental Bank of India and Kolkata-based United Bank of India. Kolkata zone will be headed by a chief general manager.

“The new FGM offices in PNB have become functional from today,” said a senior bank official.

“The economy now needs the support of public sector banks. Capability of lending by public sector banks is quite high after the amalgamation,” Union Bank of India chief executive Rajkiran Rai had said a couple of days back at a webinar.

Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank got merged into Union Bank of India, while Syndicate Bank was merged into Canara Bank, as per the mega merger plan.

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