Sandeep Bakhshi, who is seen as the stand-in chief executive of ICICI Bank, may well end up succeeding MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar, if the latter does not return from leave, analysts said.
On Monday, the lender appointed Mr. Bakhshi as chief operating officer and whole-time director for five years, after Ms. Kochhar decided to go on leave pending the completion of an inquiry. The executive management of the bank will report to Mr. Bakhshi, who will in turn report to the board.
Analysts say Mr. Bakhshi’s association with the ICICI Group over the past 32 years — in roles that included heading both retail and corporate businesses as deputy managing director of the bank — makes him a favourite to lead the bank.
“We see Mr. Bakhshi as the de-facto interim CEO,” IDFC Securities said in a note to clients. “We believe he will take over as CEO from Chanda Kochhar later. His good reputation and his experience in banking and insurance make him an appropriate candidate for the CEO’s post. We believe he will continue with the existing policies of the bank.”
A mechanical engineer with a post-graduate degree in management, Mr. Bakhshi earlier headed ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company.
“Sandeep Bakhshi has been associated with the ICICI bank group… across its diverse verticals and other subsidiaries,” said broking firm Jefferies.
“We believe that this deep association should aid a smooth transition.”
In a report, Kotak Securities said the bank’s announcement of an interim change to the senior management addresses the concerns on business continuity.
“While Mr. Bakhshi has strong credentials backing him to lead the bank, the preference of internal candidates to lead various business operations continues at the bank,” it said.