As HDFC Bank searches for a new managing director in place of Aditya Puri, the legendary banker says that he has no disagreement with his senior Deepak Parekh in the selection of his successor. "There is absolutely no disagreement between me and Deepak Parekh or within the board," he said in an interview with Business Today last week.
Aditya Puri, who retires in October this year, recited the popular movie song "Kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hain kehna..." from the 1972 romantic drama Amar Prem, starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore, when asked about the rumours of disagreement between the two.
Deepak Parekh hired Puri from Citibank in 1994 to start HDFC Bank. In multiple occasions, the two held differing views on the health of the Indian economy. Parekh criticised the Modi government in 2015, saying that there was no change on the ground, but Puri came in support of the government. Puri maintains his optimism and says, "I see a 90 per cent chance to get the economic growth improved from this quarter. I am an optimistic Indian. I will remain an optimist and refuse to submit myself to pessimism."
HDFC Bank on Wednesday said it has reconstituted the search panel instituted to find the successor to Puri, the managing director and chief executive of the 25-year-old private sector lender. The bank's parent HDFC has changed its nominee in the search committee, replacing Keki Mistry with Renu Karnad. Mistry has completed the board tenure of eight years as per the regulation. The other members in the committee include Shyamala Gopinath, Sanjiv Sachar, MD Ranganath, Sandeep Parekh, Srikanth Nadhamuni.
The bank's board had set up the search committee to identify Puri's successor last November. Puri acts as an advisor to the six-member selection committee. Puri has sold a fifth of his stake valued at Rs 156 crore in the bank in February to exercise stock options that vested in his name. He intends to sell more shares to raise capital to buy the shares allotted him under stock option, said the company. Puri sold Rs 322 crore worth shares, which got through employee stock option, in the last five years.
The banking industry closely watches the succession of Puri in HDFC Bank as he has built the bank from scratch and made it the second largest lender with more than Rs 9 lakh crore assets. It is the third most valued firm in the stock market with a market capitalisation of Rs 6.5 lakh crore, behind Reliance Industries and TCS.
"We have strong internal candidates who can take over from me from tomorrow. But we decided that in case we get an exceptional candidate from outside, we shouldn't miss him. So we appointed global executive search firm Egon Zehnder, who will look for both external and internal candidates," says Puri. Egon will submit its list in March. The search committee will shortlist the candidates and submit it to the consideration of the board. The name of the successor will be submitted to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for its approval in April or May.
"We want the best person. What is right depends on what is the bank's need. So we will have to examine what is our need, along with the attributes of the candidates. We are not biased to an outsider or insider," Puri said.