Indian public sector banks are planning to close around 70 foreign branches during this fiscal year in a bid to consolidate overseas operations.

In the consolidation process, loss-incurring foreign branches are expected to be closed while multiple operating units located in a region will be merged into a single branch, unnamed sources told the news agency.

Besides streamlining operations, the move is aimed at enhancing efficiency and slash operating losses for the banks.

In fiscal year 2016-17, about 41 branches ran into losses out of 159 overseas branches of public sector banks.

State Bank of India, one of the largest lenders of the country, reportedly topped the list with nine of its branches among those 41 operating units.

It was followed by Bank of India and Bank of Baroda with eight and seven branches respectively.

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As of 31 January 2018, the state-owned banks had around 165 foreign branches apart from representative offices and subsidiaries.

Most of the state-owned banks foreign branches are located in the UK with 32 operating units followed by Hong Kong, the UAE and Singapore.

Last fiscal, the Government of India consolidated 35 overseas branches of state-run banks. At that point, the Indian financial services secretary Rajeev Kumar said that 69 more such operations were being reviewed for consolidation.

Approved by PSB Manthan in November 2017, the banking sector agenda requires all the lenders to rationalise overseas operations to achieve cost efficiencies and synergies in the foreign markets.