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Ashu Khullar to succeed Pramit Jhaveri as Citi India boss

Ashu Khullar will replace Pramit Jhaveri as CEO of the India business from April 1.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 09, 2019, 11.30 AM IST
In January, the RBI imposed a Rs 3 crore fine on the bank for shortcomings in regulatory compliance.
MUMBAI: Citi veteran Ashu Khullar will replace Pramit Jhaveri as CEO of the India business from April 1. A Citi India spokesperson confirmed the development. Khullar, currently based in Hong Kong, is the Asia Pacific Head of Capital Market Origination at Citigroup Inc, a post he has held since end-2017 after Kenneth Poon left the Wall Street bank. A formal announcement is expected this weekend.

The Reserve Bank of India has to approve the appointment. Khullar has also been co-head for corporate banking for Europe, Middle East and Africa and has held several senior posts across various divisions of the bank, including cash management, trade, relationship management, loan structuring and syndication during his over 30-year tenure with Citi.

After his initial stint with Citi in India, Khullar, an alumnus of Shri Ram College of Commerce and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, moved to London in 1996 and worked there until his return to Asia, when he relocated to Hong Kong.

Unlike several of their peers, Citi’s Asian business is far from being a one-man show ever since Citigroup Asia CEO Francisco A Aristeguieta broke down the silos between different business lines in 2015, according to insiders. Gary Keefe, head of corporate banking in Asia Pacific and then Japan, was given the mandate to bring together disparate regional entities under a cohesive unit that Aristeguieta sought to prioritise business over geographical boundaries.

This model of being a financial supermarket, similar to a JP Morgan or universal banks like HSBC, has been a vintage of Citi until Vikram Pandit ditched it as the then CEO following the 2008 financial crisis. Globally, Citi restructured its portfolio after the Lehman crisis and even divided its businesses into two groups —Citicorp and Citi Holdings.

From April, Jhaveri is poised to become vice chairman of Citi’s banking, capital markets and advisory business across Asia Pacific after a nine-year stint as India CEO.

Jhaveri, who comes from a family of jewellers, has been among the top rainmakers for India Inc., advising them in headline-grabbing M&As or fund-raising initiatives. He took over the top job in March 2010 from Mark Robinson after Citi went through its tumultuous phase following the global financial crisis in 2008, but managed to turn around the franchise as one of the most successful global banks in the country.

Citi India’s balance sheet is considered among the best-performing in Indian banking, with net bad loans of 0.55% as of March 31, 2018.

In January, the RBI imposed a Rs 3 crore fine on the bank for shortcomings in regulatory compliance.

Another Rs 4 crore fine was imposed recently for non-compliance with the Swift system, the virtual connection between India and the rest of the world when it comes to financial messaging. The RBI penalised 19 banks, including State Bank of India and ICICI Bank.

Ever since the leadership churn at Citi India became public, names of several candidates, largely inhouse, have been doing the rounds. Khullar’s name cropped up along with Ravi Kapoor, the head of global banking at Citi India, and K Balasubramanian, who recently moved back from HDFC Bank, as ET reported on January 25.

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