In search of velocity

Karnataka Bank is trying to accelerate organic growth but can it avoid being taken over?

Soumik Kar

When Polali Jayarama Bhat secured a first rank in MSc (chemistry) from Mysore University in 1972, he never imagined that he would end up a career banker. But as fate would have it, after dabbling for three months as a lecturer in a government college, Bhat got a break in Karnataka Bank as a probationary officer in 1973. And it seems the chemistry has since worked well for the 62-year-old, who after spending close to four decades is today at the helm of the bank, overseeing assets around ₹66,000 crore. Incidentally, Karnataka Bank, which went public in 1995, has the unique distinction of being the only listed private sector bank from the South Kanara region — the rest have either been nationalised or merged. Interestingly, Karnataka Bank itself has a history of M&A, taking over three regional banks in the 1960s. Today, after 90 years of its existence, the bank boasts of 561 branches, a lending book over ₹27,000 crore and deposits of close to ₹39,000 crore.