SBI to enter general insurance by March

State Bank of India, the country's largest lender, proposes to enter general insurance business by the end of the current fiscal, its chairman O P Bhatt said.

"We hope to start general insurance operations before the end of the current fiscal. We already have got stage one approval from IRDA," Bhatt said, adding the bank would move the IRDA for the second stage of approval, shortly.

SBI, he said, has already received the Reserve Banks' approval for the proposed general insurance joint venture with Insurance Australia Group (IAG) of Australia.

SBI holds a 74 per cent stake in the joint venture while IAG holds the remaining 26 per cent. The JV has already started recruitment of top-level management, Bhatt said.

SBI, which already has a life insurance JV with BNP Paribas Assurance, currently ranks first amongst private life insurance companies in terms of new business premium collection, according to IRDA data.