ICICI Bank named group veteran Sandeep Bakhshi as its interim head, and said Chief Executive Chanda Kochhar would go on leave pending the completion of a probe over an alleged conflict of interest that has led to months of controversy for the lender.
Bakhshi, who currently heads ICICI's life insurance arm, will take up a newly created position of chief operating officer at the bank for a five-year term beginning June 19, pending regulatory approvals, the bank said in a statement late on Monday.
Kochhar, 56, who has been CEO of ICICI Bank, India's third-biggest lender by assets, since May 2009, has faced allegations of favouring Videocon Group, a consumer electronics and oil and gas exploration company, in the bank's lending practices. Videocon's founders had an investment in a renewable energy company founded by Kochhar's husband.
In an SoS meeting held Monday, the board let Kochhar proceed on an indefinite leave, or at least until the bank’s independent probe into allegations of impropriety against her is done and dusted.
Ten things to know about Sandeep Bakhshi :
1. A mechanical engineer from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, and a post-graduate in Management from Xavier Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur (XLRI).
2. Bakhshi started his career with the ICICI group in 1986 as an officer in the operations department in the Northern Zonal office, Delhi and has since then has looked after the group's corporate, retail lending and insurance businesses.
3. Bakhshi has been the managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company Limited, a subsidiary of ICICI Bank Ltd since August 2010. He was responsible for the non-life insurance business of ICICI Group.
4. Credited with taking the first Indian insurance company public, Bakhshi, had recently been re-appointed as ICICI Prudential CEO for two years.
5. The banking veteran served as the chief executive officer and managing director of the group’s non-life insurance company ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co. Ltd for two years between March 2007 and April 2009 and became a deputy managing director and head of retail in the bank before shifting to the life insurance company in August 2010.
6. Sandeep Bakhshi will report to the bank's board during the period of Kochhar's leave and will be responsible for handling all the businesses and corporate centre functions. All the executive directors of the bank and its executive management would report to Bakhshi.
7. N.S. Kannan, executive director at ICICI Bank, will replace him as CEO of ICICI Prudential. Bakhshi, however, will continue as an executive director at the insurer.
8. "Bakhshi is part of the ICICI culture. So, from that perspective, he is the right choice as the senior-most person within the ICICI umbrella after Kochhar," said Shriram Subramanian, founder of proxy advisory firm InGovern.
9. In a March 7, 2018 interview with The Economic Times, he revealed: "I wanted to spend a lot of time outside of normal life… in jungles. There is a lot of fascination around wildlife, watching predators, foxes, jackals."
10. He also said in the interview that he had cleared the National Defence Academy tests but regretted not pursuing it.
(With inputs from agencies)