NEW DELHI:

In a bid to step up its efforts to control non-performing assets (NPAs), the State Bank of India (SBI) is hiring more bankruptcy and legal firms to strengthen its stressed assets team to handle cases of above 100 crore under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

"The bank seeks to empanel advocates/law firms for handling cases of above 100 crore," the SBI said.

The SBI is currently in the process of examining the applications. The bank has 20 stressed asset management branches across the country which report to its central stressed asset resolution vertical.

In February, the SBI had invited applications for the empanelment of insolvency professionals registered with the regulator Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI).

A banking source said that post the Supreme Court order in April which made the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) direction to approach the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in cases of over 2,000 crore NPAs no longer mandatory, banks, including the SBI, are trying to resolve all the long pending cases under the IBC in a time-bound manner.

Therefore, though cases under the IBC are delayed, it will still be the preferred mechanism as compared to other tools.

In the third quarter of the last fiscal, the SBI had posted a profit of 3,955 crore while its asset quality improved with gross NPAs falling to 1.87 lakh crore from 2.05 lakh crore recorded in the previous quarter.

On April 2, the Supreme Court had made the referral to the NCLT non-mandatory -- leaving the decision to the lenders -- while striking down an earlier RBI circular that gave explicit power to the central bank to direct the banks to approach the NCLT over NPAs of over 2,000 crore.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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