A key task of the Bombay Stock Exchange’s (BSE) new CEO, Sundararaman R, will be to give the exchange a product that could compete with its rival, National Stock Exchange(NSE). The two indices of NSE — Nifty and Bank Nifty — are world leaders, and attract traders in abundance, to which the BSE has no counter.

But, Sundararaman is not new to the game. Before joining Bank of America sometime in 2012, he was NSE’s Chief of Products and worked with the bourse for nearly 20 years since its inception up to the time it became a derivatives powerhouse. Sundararaman’s knowledge of the tricks of the trade should come in handy since Bank Nifty’s derivatives volumes started galloping under him, experts say.

Veteran Exchange

Naturally, it took around four to five months for SEBI to select Sundararaman for the top post at BSE, implying why the regulator knew it wanted him at the helm of India’s oldest and fastest exchange, a veteran exchange official said.

But, it is not going to be a breeze to step into the shoes of BSE’s former boss, Ashish Chauhan, who had to toil to keep the exchange from shutting down. In 2010, when Chauhan joined BSE, it was fast losing volumes, a chapter on governance was missing in its text book, its corporate image was at its nadir and the employee union was baying for the management’s blood.

New innings

Between 2012 and 2022 when Chauhan was at the helm, BSE rose to be the world’s fastest exchange sans technical glitches, went public, gained regulatory prowess, developed new income streams like mutual funds trading platform to become a monopoly and so on. Yet, Chauhan’s term could not give BSE a product in the equity or derivatives markets that could break the monopoly of NSE. Exchange volumes are sticky and traders do not easily move, especially without incentives.

Hence, an emerging view is that Sundararaman could be the best bet to give BSE that edge in new products – a task cut out for him due to his past experience. At age 62, it is the start of a new innings for him on a sticky exchange wicket. And his job? To make the Sensex, India’s most popular stock market index, a successful derivatives product.