Following the high profile fraud case involving diamond baron Nirav Modi, the spotlight is on Punjab National Bank and the general state of affairs at public sector banks. Ranked 25, on this year’s Fortune India PSU 50 list, Punjab National Bank made a re-entry to the list this year, after it fell off last year after posting a loss.

PNB has company on the list with other public sector bank (PSB) peers; Bank of Baroda (rank: 16), Canara Bank (rank: 22), Syndicate Bank (rank: 38), Corporation Bank (rank: 40). The fate of these banks remains speculative for the coming year. The State Bank of India dropped 11 places on the list, it ranked at number 15 against 4 last year. Clearly, there is a shakeout among the PSBs on the list. Their share of the total profit fell to 8.78% this year, compared to 12.9% last year.

Away from banking, the oil and gas sector has a dominating grip on the PSU50. Of the Rs 2,62,354 crore of aggregate gross profit of the 50 companies this year, seven are oil & gas companies with Rs 124,809 crore, accounting for 47.6% of the total.

The total dividend outgo of 43 of the PSU50 companies adds up to Rs 66,871 crore in FY2017. And, the seven oil & gas companies account for Rs 32,356 crore – 48.4% of the PSU50 equity dividend.

The total market capitalisation of 43 of the PSU50 companies adds up to Rs 20.25 lakh crore. Here too, the seven oil & gas companies account for 34.4% of the total with Rs 6.97 lakh crore of total market capitalisation.

While, eight companies from the power sector –with Rs 54,355 crore of total gross profit – account for 20.7% of the PSU50, their share of equity dividend works out to 16.1% with 10,797 crore in total dividend outgo. Their share of market capitalsation is 14.7%

Clearly, the profits come from a few sectors and are concentrated at the top of the list. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, for instance, tops the PSU50 list, with gross profit of Rs 48,476 crore which works out to 18.5% of the total gross profit of the PSU50.

And when it comes to the largest dividend payer from the PSU50, Coal India has no contender. At Rs 12,353 crore, Coal India accounts for 18.5% of the total dividend paid by the PSU50 companies.

If we look at the list beyond the top-10, we realise that it’s all about scale. The top-10 companies account for 72.3% of the total profit, leaving 27.7% for the other 40. When seen in two halves, the bottom-25 companies account for mere 8.8% of the total profit. While the bottom-10 account for little over 2% of the total profit of the PSU50.

At least the PSU50 companies’ Rs 262,354 crore gross profit is good news given that 150-plus PSU have together filed net losses accumulating over Rs 102,354 crore over the last two fiscals. It is definitely not easy to be a public sector undertaking.

(The Fortune India March 2018 issue is on stands. Subscribe here)

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