SBT to sport SBI symbol from April 3 following merger

Cheque books of six banks to go invalid from September 30: Notifies State Bank of India

New Delhi, March25:The 1,300 branches of the State Bank of India (SBI) and State Bank of Travancore (SBT) across Kerala are busy gearing up for their April 1 merger, which will bring to an end the hallowed history of the SBT, the official banker to the State government.

The 800-odd SBT branches will start sporting the SBI name boards from April 3, the first bank working day in the month. “The transition is going very smoothly and we do not foresee any glitches,” a senior SBI official who did not want to be quoted by name, told The Hindu . “The name board change may a take a few days more, though.”

Along with the SBT, the branches of four other associate banks — State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Patiala, and State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur — are being merged with the SBI on April. And, the youngest public sector bank, the Mahila Bank, which has seven branches in Kerala, too is merging with the SBI.

SBI and SBT officials claimed that the merger was being planned in such a way that the lakhs of SBT customers would not face any hardships.

They, however, said the SBT customers would continue to be served by the SBT branches themselves for the first few weeks.

‘Data merger’

Once the `data merger’ of the two banks was completed, expected by April 24, it would be the SBI all the way. Since both the SBI and SBT used the same core banking platform, the data merger was not going to be tough.

From April 3, only the SBI banking products would be available and all the different loan and deposit products offered by the SBT would be scrapped.

The SBT customers, as well as those of the other associate banks, would keep the same account numbers even after the merger. The merger is also expected to improve the amenities for customers and staff at the SBT branches as they would have to be upgraded to the SBI standards.

Officials said there would be some organisational changes within the SBI, which has fewer branches — at 495 — than the SBT.

The number of regional offices would go up from 13 to 29.

The number of zonal offices would rise to six from the current four — new zonal offices would come up at Kottayam and Kollam.

The local head office (LHO) would stay on in Thiruvananthapuram. More `loan cells’ would be created to process loans.

In spite of the fear of closure of several branches, and the series of agitations that followed, the SBT employees seem to have reconciled to the merger.

Sources told The Hindu that it was inevitable that scores of overlapping branches would be closed. But, union leaders said they had been told that this would not happen in the first year of merger.

Attractive VRS

Also, the SBT employees would, most likely, be offered a decent voluntary retirement scheme (VRS). Those aged 55 and opting to quit are likely to get up to 30 months’ salary as compensation — this has not yet been announced, though.

The SBT employees would have a level-playing field at the SBI.