Rajnish Kumar named new SBI Chairman, to take over on October 7

Rajnish Kumar, Managing Director of State Bank of India (SBI), was on Wednesday appointed as the next Chairman of the largest public sector bank.

He will succeed Arundhati Bhattacharya, who is at present serving her one-year extension, that ends on Friday.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Kumar for a period of three years from October 7, according to an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).

Before becoming MD, national banking group, in 2015, Kumar was heading the merchant banking arm of the bank, SBI Capital Markets, as managing director and CEO.

Bhattacharya was chairman of SBI Caps before being appointed chairman and managing director of SBI. The Banks Board Bureau had interviewed all four SBI managing directors for the top position. Apart from Kumar and Gupta, the other two managing directors are B Sriram and Dinesh Kumar Khara.

The new head of the bank will have to lead it through the ongoing resolution of bad loans, while ensuring that it supports growth by stepping up lending. Bad loans are seen as a systemic risk while credit growth is a key element of India’s economic revival strategy.

Appointed in 2013 as the bank’s first woman chairman, Bhattacharya got a one-year extension in October 2016 to maintain continuity as SBI was preparing to absorb five associate banks and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank in April. That was seen as kicking off a much-anticipated wave of consolidation in the public sector banking space.

In 2015, while selecting private sector candidates for five large state-owned banks, the government had offered fixed three-year tenures subject to superannuation at 60. Management reforms in public sector banks were initiated the same year and the post of chairman and managing directorcum-CEO was split except for SBI. Kumar holds a master’s degree in physics, is an avid traveller and a good badminton player, according to the SBI website.

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