New SEBI chief Madhabi Puri Buch has her task cut out

PALAK SHAH | | Updated on: Mar 02, 2022
Outgoing SEBI chairman Ajay Tyagi and his successor, Madhabi Puri Buch  (file photo)

Outgoing SEBI chairman Ajay Tyagi and his successor, Madhabi Puri Buch  (file photo)

An investment banker with impeccable academic pedigree, Buch is known to be a tough taskmaster

‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’ is an adage that fits well on Madhabi Puri Buch, who will take over the reins of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Tuesday from outgoing chairman Ajay Tyagi. Buch, 56, will be the first woman to head SEBI, the country’s financial market regulator, currently marred by controversies for its mishandling of the co-locations scam at the National Stock Exchange. 

Buch’s appointment has been hailed by the market as a refreshing change from the bureaucratic stranglehold over the market regulator’s office. In the three decades of its existence, SEBI has always been headed by an IAS officer.

An MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and a maths graduate from St Stephens, Buch has had a high profile career in investment banking as well as experience of the market watchdog, having worked as a whole time member there between 2017 and 2021. According to sources in New Delhi, the Prime Minister’s Office wanted to appoint her as the SEBI chief last February when Tyagi’s term ended but the pandemic delayed the decision. As a WTM, Buch was known to be a tough task master. She had promised action against entities for sham transactions in stock derivatives.

Anil Singhvi, a corporate governance expert and market watcher, said, “I expect her to raise the prestige and reputation of SEBI, which has taken a huge toll in the last few years.”

A protegee of KV Kamath, the founder of ICICI Bank, Buch shot to the limelight as the MD and CEO of ICICI Securities, where she looked after the firm’s corporate finance activities including equity capital markets, foreign institutional desk and retail stock broking. Buch was also an executive director of ICICI Bank where she was responsible for the global market business. In 2011 she took a sabbatical to join her husband Dhaval Buch (currently a senior advisor to the American private equity major Blackstone) in Singapore, joining SEBI upon her return to India.

Those who know Buch closely say she has a deep understanding of India’s bureaucracy as well, since her extended family members are civil servants from the Madhya Pradesh Cadre.

Published on February 28, 2022
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