Dec 6, 2008

Business - Chanda Kochhar tipped to succeed Kamath

George Smith Alexander

MUMBAI: ICICI Bank, the country’s second-largest bank, will soon announce MD & chief executive KV Kamath’s successor. While joint MD &CEO Chanda Kochhar
Chanda Kochhar is the fronrunner for the top post, banking circles said ICICI Prudential Life Insurance’s MD & CEO, Shikha Sharma, has also been shortlisted by the bank. There is a distinct possibility that the bank’s board will consider the succession issue at its next meeting on December 19.

Mr Kamath, whose term comes to an end next April, is expected to become the non-executive chairman. Current chairman N Vaghul’s term too comes to an end next year. Mr Kamath took over as the CEO from Mr Vaghul in 1996. For the past few years, the bank has been running a process to shortlist candidates for the CEO’s job. An announcement was expected last month, but sources said this was postponed due to the credit crisis and financial turbulence.

Other than finance, Ms Kochhar is also responsible for the global treasury, principal investments & trading, risk management and legal functions. She joined the erstwhile ICICI as a management trainee in 1984, and has handled major business streams like retail, corporate and international banking in the past few years.

The appointment of the next CEO would free up a board berth, and among the senior officials who could be considered for the slot are ICICI Lombard ED Vishakha Mulye, and NS Kannan and Bhargav Dasgupta, EDs of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance. The bank had chosen a long and unconventional process of picking the new CEO. Mr Kamath had taken the help of professor Wayne Brockbank of University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business to obtain independent data on the leadership attributes of senior officials shortlisted for the job.

Initially, Mr Vaghul, along with Mr Kamath, had created a list of 12 senior officials in the ICICI group who were perceived as potential candidates.

Other than Ms Kochhar and Ms Sharma, the shortlisted officials included ICICI Lombard General Insurance’s MD & CEO Sandeep Bakhshi; ICICI Ventures MD & CEO Renuka Ramnath; the three EDs of ICICI Bank — V Vaidyanathan, Madhabi Puri-Buch and Sanjoy Chatterjee; Ms Mulye, Mr Kannan and Mr Dasgupta. ET had, on October 3, explained the selction process for the new chief.

Mr Brockbank, along with ICICI Bank officials, had helped in creating a detailed profile of these officials which were placed before the bank’s governance committee. The committee members include Mr Vaghul, Anupam Puri, MK Sharma, PM Sinha and Marti G Subrahmanyam.

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