ICICI in great hands with Kochhar as CEO: Kamath

Confident that ICICI Bank will keep scaling greater heights, former Chairman K V Kamath has said the bank is in “great hands” under the leadership of its current CEO Chanda Kochhar.

“ICICI Bank is in great hands. Chanda will take it to greater heights and I have no doubts about it,” said Kamath, who relinquished his position as bank’s Chairman earlier this month to take up the responsibility as the first President of the BRICS nations’ USD 100-billion New Development Bank (NDB).

“It (ICICI Bank) is a great bank and it will keep scaling new heights every passing day,” Kamath told PTI.

He was here for the BRICS Summit, attended by the heads of state of the five leading emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The ratification process for setting up of NDB was also completed during the Summit.

On India, Kamath said he is very optimistic about the growth prospects of the country.

“I have always been sure that India will realise its dreams of being a global power,” he said.

Kamath is the first president of NDB, which will provide infrastructure loans to emerging nations, rivalling multilateral lenders such as the World Bank and IMF.

Kamath will largely operate from China in his new role at Shanghai-based BRICS Bank — taking him back to one of his favourite countries where he spent a good amount of time during his tenure at Asian Development Bank, between 1988 and 1996, when he returned to ICICI Bank as its CEO.

The 67-year-old banker began his career in 1971 at ICICI, the erstwhile financial institution that was incidentally set up at the initiative of another multi-lateral development institution, the World Bank.

ICICI Bank was later set up as a subsidiary of ICICI Ltd in 1994, while the parent later merged into it in 2002.

He led the group’s transformation into a diversified, technology-driven financial services group that has leadership positions across banking, insurance and asset management in India and abroad.

Back in 2008, when ICICI Bank was hit by widespread rumours of ‘run-on-the-bank’, Kamath led from the front and brought everything back into order, even as bank customers were queueing up before its branches to withdraw funds.

He retired as Managing Director and CEO in April 2009 and became its non-executive Chairman. He was succeeded by Kochhar as MD and CEO.

Kamath, a mechanical engineer and an MBA from prestigious IIM-Ahmedabad, was also on board of several other companies, including that of IT giant Infosys where he served as a non-executive Chairman.

In an earlier interview to PTI, Kamath had said if there was an ‘Ivy League’ of banks across the world, he expected ICICI Bank and a few more from India to join that elite club.

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