Ashok Vaswani To Be Kotak Mahindra Bank CEO

RBI approval is for a period of three years from the date of him taking charge.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Ashok Vaswani. (Photo: Barclays website)</p></div>
Ashok Vaswani. (Photo: Barclays website)

Reserve Bank of India has cleared the appointment of Ashok Vaswani as managing director and chief executive officer of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.

The approval is for a period of three years from the date of him taking charge, the lender said in an exchange notification. The appointment will need to happen before Jan. 1, 2024, the bank said.

Vaswani is expected to move to India and join by December, said Dipak Gupta, interim MD & CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank told reporters over a call on Saturday, after announcing the bank's second quarter results.

"He is a veteran banker with exceptional track record and brings with him significant expertise in both consumer and corporate business, particularly for digital drive," he said. "Ashok is basically ghar vapsi and fits into the overall broad theme of getting global talent back to India and running our companies," Gupta said.

Vaswani was CEO of Barclays in the U.K. from 2016 to 2019. Between 2019 and 2021, he also acted as global consumer and payments CEO for the British bank. Between November 2021 and July 2022, he was chief digital officer at Barclays, before he retired from the bank.

Earlier, Ashok was CEO, Citigroup Asia Pacific and member of the Citigroup Global Operating & Management Committees. He also built and ran various country and regional businesses across geographies.

Before the appointment at Kotak Mahindra Bank, Vaswani was president at US-Israeli AI firm Pagaya Technologies.

Uday Kotak, founder MD & CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank, had suddenly announced his resignation from the position on Sept. 2. He was due to retire from the bank on Dec. 31. Owing to Kotak's sudden exit, the bank's board appointed veteran Dipak Gupta as interim CEO till a new chief is appointed. Gupta's tenure at the bank ends on Dec. 31 as well.

In his retirement letter, Kotak had specified that the bank's board had already sent the names of potential CEO candidates to the regulator. At the time, it was speculated that the next potential CEO would come from within the bank.

“I am delighted that the RBI has approved our recommendation, Ashok Vaswani, as the next MD & CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank," Kotak said in a statement on Saturday. "Ashok is a word class leader and banker with digital and customer focus. I am proud that we bring a “Global Indian” home to build Kotak and India of tomorrow."

On an external candidate's appointment, Gupta said that since a lot of changes are taking place in the banking environment, it is important to bring global talent into the country.

"We have in-house expertise in several areas and want it to continue. But we need it to be supplemented by global expertise," he said in the media call.

Gupta also said that Kotak Mahindra Bank has submitted an application to the RBI for filling the post of Chairman and it waits to hear further. The bank's current Chairman Prakash Apte's tenure ends on Dec. 31.

No further changes are expected in the management, Gupta said. "Shanti Ekambaram and KVS Manian will stay in their current roles," he added.

The lender also doesn't expect attrition at senior management level due to an external candidate's appointment.

"The issue is getting global talent to ensure that in India we have themes similar to what is playing out globally," Gupta said.