Money & Banking

Rajnish Kumar to helm SBI

K Ram Kumar NS Vageesh Mumbai | Updated on January 08, 2018

“Quick in decision making and a reasonable risk-taker” is how a senior State Bank of India (SBI) official described Rajnish Kumar, who will occupy the corner office at India’s largest bank later this week.

“It is indeed an honour to be entrusted with the leadership of SBI at a time when India is best poised for growth. I look forward to serving the bank to the best of my abilities along with the support of all my colleagues spread across the globe,” Kumar said, reacting to his appointment.

The four-year term of incumbent Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya, whose high point was piloting the amalgamation of five associate banks and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank, comes to an end on October 6.

Kumar has been the Managing Director of the crucial National Banking Group (NBG), which oversees the functioning of over 95 per cent of SBI’s 24,000-odd branches, for the last two years. He was to retire in a few month’s time.

“It is a natural progression….Under his leadership, retail banking witnessed a robust 20 per cent year-on-year growth in the last two years,” said the official quoted above.

Besides Kumar, three other Managing Directors — B Sriram (the senior-most MD), PK Gupta and Dinesh Khara — were vying for the top position.

Kumar will take charge at a time when the bank is consolidating its operations, including rationalising branches and redeploying manpower. SBI faces huge challenges: bad loans, capital to provide for bad loans, capitalisation to meet Basel III norms, falling market share due to competition from private sector banks.

Prior to his appointment as MD (NBG), Kumar was Managing Director –Compliance & Risk, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of SBI Capital Markets Ltd, Chief General Manager, Project Finance and Leasing SBU. Kumar has held several key assignments across various business verticals, including two overseas assignments in Canada and UK.

A widely-travelled man, Kumar has visited 35 countries and 50 cities. One of the high-points of his career, he said, in a video released by SBI as part of its recruitment drive, was being able to attend a tea party hosted by the Queen of England, when he was heading SBI’s operations in UK.

He considers himself ‘lucky’ to be part of SBI and said in the video that he owed his rise only to his own merit and not to mentors or godfathers.

Published on October 04, 2017

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