01 Apr 2017 12:34 IST

After 75 years, Nizam’s bank closes its account

Retired State Bank of Hyderabad employee R Sathyanarana taking a selfie | GN Rao

SBH began operation in April 1942 managed Hyderabad currency, public debt, and commercial banking

From April 1, the State Bank of Hyderabad (SBH) and its iconic headquarters in the heart of the city will shed its 75-year-old history to assume a new identity.

As SBH joins other associate banks to merge with the State Bank of India, the Hyderabadi old-timer will heave a sigh in memory of what was once the Central Bank of the Nizam. Established in 1942, the palatial building abutted Abids, which was once Hyderabad’s A1 commercial street, and Gunfoundry, which housed the cannonball factory set up in 1786 by French General Michel Raymond for the Second Nizam Mir Nizam Ali Khan.

There was a tinge of sadness among SBH staff in branches across the city. “Yes, we are nostalgic. We worked hard to build the brand and competed even with SBI branches. It will be history now,” said a general manager who did not want to be named.

Interestingly, the Finance Minister of Telangana, Etela Rajender, had opposed the merger. The SBH should retain its identity as a Telangana bank, having been in existence before the formation of united Andhra Pradesh in 1956, he had said.

Incidentally, the SBH which began operation in April 1942, entered its platinum jubilee year with a long line up of celebratory events. In the past, it had managed the Hyderabad currency — the Osmania Sikka — and public debt, besides commercial banking in the State of Hyderabad.

Later, it became a subsidiary of State Bank of India in 1959 and is now SBI’s largest associate bank. Its total business stood at ₹2.60 lakh crore as on December 30, 2016.

For Abdul Aziz, a retired employee of the Osmania University and SBH customer for more than three decades, “SBH brand was as familiar as the Charminar and will be missed forever”.

Management

Many employees feel SBI had managed the change-over process very well. “We have been informed about various aspects of change and have been assured. Right from the Chairperson to Deputy Managing Directors of SBI, all of them have written to employees in the last one month and keeping them abreast of developments,” said an officer who works at the central office here.

Other associates

The merger will also mark the end of the princely past for other associates of SBI including the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, which was set up in 1943-44; and State Bank of Mysore, which was set up by M Visvesswarayya under the patronage of Mysore Maharaja Krisha Raja Wadiyar IV. The State Bank of Travancore and the State Bank of Patiala were also set up by native rulers in 1945 and 1917 respectively.