THE ICICI SUC­CES­SION

EVEN AS A FOR­MER SUPREME COURT JUDGE EX­AM­INES AL­LE­GA­TIONS OF IM­PRO­PRI­ETY, THE BANK HAS TO RE­TURN TO NOR­MAL FUNC­TION­ING.

Business Today - - CONTENTS - @anan­dad­hikari By ANAND ADHIKARI IL­LUS­TRA­TION By AJAY THAKURI

Even as a for­mer Supreme Court judge ex­am­ines al­le­ga­tions of im­pro­pri­ety, the bank has to re­turn to nor­mal func­tion­ing

AF­TER CHANDA KOCHHAR, what now? With its Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer on leave pend­ing al­le­ga­tions of con­flict of in­ter­est, ICICI has brought in its se­nior-most ex­ec­u­tive Sandeep Bakhshi as Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer. The move works both ways. Should Kochhar be cleared and re­turn, Bakhshi will re­main COO

– a con­fi­dence build­ing ex­er­cise for the bank’s un­happy in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors. On the other hand, if Kochhar doesn’t re­turn, Bakhshi could be a com­fort­ing choice for CEO.

In­sid­ers say the bank’s board is al­ready de­bat­ing bring­ing in more in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tors. For the in­terim, the en­tire man­age­ment will re­port to Bakhshi who re­ports to the board.

An old ICICI hand, what goes against Bakhshi, is his rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing con­ser­va­tive. In 2002, he was asked to build up ICICI’s gen­eral in­sur­ance busi­ness and then re­turned as Deputy Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor to head re­tail bank­ing. When the ba­ton passed from KV Ka­math to the then-young Chanda Kochhar, many se­nior ex­ec­u­tives walked out. Bakhshi stayed – he re­placed V Vaidyanathan as CEO of the bank’s largest life in­sur­ance sub­sidiary.

In the cur­rent sce­nario of slip­ping as­set qual­ity, Bakhshi’s nonag­gres­sive style (quite re­moved from the ag­gres­sive growth man­age­ment that ICICI tra­di­tion­ally favoured), may well prove the best choice. The ques­tion is, since he’s been away from bank­ing too long, will that prove a lim­i­ta­tion?

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