New Delhi– After slipping into a Rs 4,750 crore loss in the fourth quarter ended March, state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) hopes to once again become profitable in the current quarter, PNB Chairman Sunil Mehta said on Tuesday.

The chief of the country’s second largest public sector bank (PSB) told IANS in an interview here that the bank is targeting a recovery of Rs 25,000 crore in the current fiscal, which includes Rs 6,000 crore from two resolved non-performing asset (NPA or bad loan) accounts of Essar Steel and Bhushan Steel & Power.

“The bank is expecting to post profit in the first quarter of the current fiscal and is expecting to recover Rs 25,000 crore in the current fiscal. Rs 6,000 crore is expected to come from Essar and Bhushan Steel & Power resolutions”, he said, adding that for Essar Steel alone the provision is Rs 2,800 crore.

Mehta said the losses happened as the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) resolutions of these major NPAs did not materialise due to pending litigations.

The bank stocks fell 3.5 per cent as its January-March quarter slippages remain at high levels.

Its fresh slippages in the fourth quarter are at Rs 6,710 crore and its Provision Coverage Ratio (PCR) increased to 74.5 per cent, from 58.42 per cent in the same period a year ago.

A senior official said the bank’s exposure in the grounded Jet Airways is less than Rs 900 crore but PNB is yet to designate it as an NPA.

PNB slipped back into losses after posting a Rs 247 crore net profit in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter ending March, it posted a loss of Rs 4,750 crore due to higher provisioning, as compared to the staggering loss of Rs 13,417 crore caused by the Nirav Modi fraud during the corresponding period of 2017-18.

PNB’s provisioning for the quarter in question stood at Rs 10,071 crore, against Rs 2,754 crore on this count in the previous quarter.

The bank’s asset quality has, however, stabilised. The provisions for bad loans dropped in the fourth quarter to Rs 9,153.55 crore from Rs 16,202.82 crore in the March quarter of 2018.

The provisions jumped sequentially nearly three times from Rs 2,565.77 crore in December quarter.

For the entire fiscal 2018-19, PNB recorded a net loss of Rs 9,975 crore, lower than net loss of Rs 12,283 crore in previous fiscal.

The Chairman also said that PNB did not carry out the stake sale of its housing arm.

Earlier this month, PNB called off a deal to sell stake in its housing finance arm to global private equity firms General Atlantic and Varde Partners.

Mehta also said that the lock-in period of PNB’s stake in the housing arm PNB Housing is about to expire and the bank can take a call on entire stake sale depending on the market conditions.

In March, the state-owned lender had entered into agreements to sell 10.89 crore equity shares, or 13.1 per cent stake, in PNB Housing Finance to General Atlantic Group and Varde Partners at a share price of Rs 850 per share, aggregating to Rs 925.80 crore.

PNB’s net NPAs in the fourth quarter as a percentage of total advances was at 6.56 per cent compared with 8.22 per cent in the previous quarter.

Its net interest income (NII), or the difference between interest earned and interest expended, rose 37 per cent to Rs 4,200 crore, against Rs 3,063.36 crore during the same quarter last year.

Following Reserve Bank of India’s guidelines, PNB made a provision of Rs 11,940.15 crore towards its exposure to accounts covered under provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

Mehta said that for NCLT accounts the provisioning is 100 per cent, while for non-NCLT accounts it is at 75 per cent.

He also said that he has no information on any proposal of merger of PNB with other banks. (IANS)