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SBI Expects $2 Bn In Govt Funds By FY12

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State Bank of India (SBI) hopes to receive an injection of up to $2 billion from the government this fiscal year, its chairman said on Wednesday, a day after Moody's downgraded its standalone rating due to rising bad loans and a thinning capital cushion.

SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri also does not see any need to pass on interest rate increases to customers as margins are strong, its said on Wednesday.

"If we hike (rates), we will not remain competitive," he told reporters.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last month raised key lending rate for the 12th time in the last 18 months to fight near double-digit inflation.

Shares in the country's dominant lender continued to slide, falling as much as 3.9 per cent to their lowest in more than two years and helping drag the broader market into negative territory.

"We have taken note of this message and recapitalisation, we are hopeful, will be completed by the end of December 2011 and at the most, if it is stretched, it will go to March," Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri told a media briefing.

He said the bank has outlined to the government scenarios under which it would need 140 billion to 210 billion rupees ($2.84 billion-$4.26 billion) of state capital over five years, and would be "comfortable" with 30 billion to 100 billion rupees of fresh government capital in the current fiscal year.

The size of the injection depends on the contribution of minority shareholders as well as the surplus generated by the bank's operations, he said.

Last month, State Bank of India, which is 59 percent owned by the government, doubled its overseas borrowing target to $10 billion, and Tuesday's rating cut could make its fund-raising more expensive and squeeze margins at its overseas operations.

However, Choudhuri earlier told TV channel ET Now that SBI does not expect overseas borrowing costs to rise "significantly" as a result of the Moody's move, with medium-term note borrowing costs rising 1-2 basis points.

SBI, which has a market value of about $23 billion, is currently borrowing overseas funds at LIBOR plus 220-225 basis points, Chaudhuri told ET Now.

The bank has delayed a planned $4.5 billion rights issue, which would bolster its capital position, as India's cash-strapped government is seen to be reluctant to stump up its share of the offer in order to maintain its stake.

Moody's had said SBI's low capital adequacy and recent failure to raise capital prompted the downgrade of its "Bank Financial Strength Rating" to D+ from C- on a scale of A to E.

(Reuters)