The State Bank of India (SBI) is preparing to raise ₹15,000 crore to ₹18,000 crore through what is expected to be India’s largest qualified institutional placement (QIP) in the next few weeks, said three people aware of the development.In January, SBI’s board of directors approved a plan to raise up to ₹20,000 crore through various equity and equity-linked instruments, including a QIP.The state-owned lender, the country’s largest, could launch the deal as early as the next fortnight, according to one of the persons mentioned above.“SBI was waiting for the elections to get over as political uncertainty is an issue with many investors. The stock has done well since the mandate of the election was announced. They have been talking with investors and they want to launch the transaction soon,” said this person.SBI’s stock has seen its value increase by 20.4% since the start of the year. After the results of the general elections were announced on 23 May, it has moved up by more than 5%, data from stock exchanges show.On Tuesday, the lender’s shares closed the day at ₹360.40 apiece, down by 0.29% on the BSE, while the benchmark Sensex closed at 39,749.73 points, up 0.17%.An email sent to SBI enquiring about its QIP plans went unanswered.Bank of America Merrill Lynch, CLSA, Kotak Mahindra Capital, and SBI Capital Markets have been advising the bank on this fundraise, Bloomberg reported in January. HSBC declined to comment, while emails sent to the other advisors did not elicit a response.The latest QIP from the lender is expected to be slightly larger than its previous fundraise in 2017 from the public markets when it raised ₹15,000 crore through the largest QIP witnessed in the country.A large chunk of that QIP was snapped up by the Life Insurance Corp. of India (LIC), which accounted for more than 35% of the shares offered in the QIP, while another investor, EuroPacific Growth Fund, subscribed to a little over 10% of the shares on offer, data from stock exchange filings show.Earlier this month, the bank reported a profit of ₹838.40 crore for the fourth quarter, missing analysts’ estimates after making hefty provisions to pare bad debt. In the corresponding quarter of the previous year, it posted a loss of ₹7,718.17 crore.However, the bank’s asset quality improved during the quarter with new bad loans falling sharply.The bank classified its exposure of ₹1,125 crore out of ₹3,487 crore toward Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) as a non-performing asset (NPA) in this quarter. As a percentage of total loans, gross NPAs stood at 7.53%, compared with 8.71% in the previous three months, and 10.91% in the year-ago quarter.Net NPAs were at 3.01% in the March quarter against 3.95% in the previous quarter, and 5.73% in the corresponding quarter of last year.So far this year, three companies have raised a total of ₹4,382.4 crore through QIPs, while in 2018, 25 companies raised ₹16,587 crore through the route, data from primary market tracker Prime Database shows.A QIP is a capital-raising tool through which publicly traded firms can sell securities such as shares and convertible debentures to institutional buyers.