Insider Jagdishan to take reins at India’s most valuable lender By Reuters

© Reuters. The headquarters of India’s HDFC bank is pictured in Mumbai

By Chris Thomas

BENGALURU (Reuters) – India’s top private-sector lender HDFC Bank Ltd (NS:) has received the approval to name insider Sashidhar Jagdishan its chief executive officer, the bank said on Tuesday, as it steers itself through the coronavirus downturn.

Jagdishan, who will replace Aditya Puri – HDFC Bank’s CEO of 26 years, takes over at a time when the country’s lenders are facing a flood of potential loan defaults as the pandemic brings small businesses to the brink.

Currently the head of finance and “strategic change agent” at the Mumbai-based bank, Jagdishan will start his new role from Oct. 27, the lender said, after the Reserve Bank of India cleared the appointment.

Investors cheered the move, sending HDFC Bank’s shares up as much as 6% after local media first reported the news citing sources and pushing the broader Mumbai market () higher.

Puri, who has been at the helm since HDFC Bank’s inception in 1994, is the country’s highest paid banker and has been credited with turning the bank into a financial powerhouse over the years.

Puri has run the bank with an iron hand, preventing it from accruing a high level of bad loans at a time when most of its peers are struggling, analysts have said.

It is one of three domestic lenders that the Reserve Bank of India has designated as “too big to fail”. The bank has been able to maintain strong profit growth and stable asset quality amid the pandemic.

“In an uncertain environment like this, we believe an internal candidate who is in sync with the outgoing CEO Mr Puri is the right choice,” Macquarie Research said in a note.

The bank said in a regulatory filing its board will meet in due course to approve Jagdishan’s appointment. The RBI has approved a three-year term for Jagdishan.

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