SBI not to hold its annual accounts meeting in Kolkata from this year
For the State Bank of India holding annual accounts board meeting in Kolkata every summer was logistically challenging
Kolkata: In a blow to Kolkata’s pride, a city which lives in the shadow of its hallowed business heritage, the State Bank of India (SBI) will cease to have its annual accounts board meeting in the city from this year—a break from a tradition which dates to 1806 when Bank of Calcutta, one of the forebears of the country’s biggest lender, was founded.
Though SBI is headquartered in Mumbai, its central accounts office continues to be in Kolkata. That drew the entire top brass of the bank to Kolkata every summer to finalise the annual accounts, but not anymore. It was logistically challenging, said two key officials, who asked not to be identified.
The Hindu Business Line reported on Tuesday that the bank had decided to hold this year’s board meeting to finalise its annual accounts in Mumbai.
Historically, the central accounts office was in Kolkata because at the time of formation of Imperial Bank of India in 1921 by the merger of the three presidency banks of British India, Bank of Bengal (which started off as Bank of Calcutta) was the biggest. The two others were Bank of Bombay and Bank of Madras, started, respectively, in 1840 and 1843. The central accounts office was set up in Kolkata a few years after the merger.
In 1955, the union government took over the Imperial Bank of India under an Act of the Parliament and renamed it SBI. It was recorded in the same Act that the central accounts office would continue to be in Kolkata though the headquarters would be in Mumbai.
To be sure, nothing in the bank’s by-laws requires the management to hold its annual accounts board meeting in Kolkata. It went on as a tradition—an annual fixture that would unite the bosses with the roots of the bank, though the imposing edifice at 1 Strand Road which was the home of Bank of Bengal since 1825 has long been demolished.
“Don’t read too much into this,” said Abhik Ray, a historian who works closely with SBI and its archives. “The decision must have been taken keeping in mind the costs and logistical challenges of signing the annual accounts in Kolkata.”