Mumbai: The managing director and chief executive of National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX), P.H. Ravikumar, has resigned. He’s being replaced by R. Ramaseshan, Karnataka’s former chief electoral officer.
Sources familiar with the development said 28 April is Ravikumar’s last day in office.
Abrupt exit: P.H. Ravikumar, in an interview with Mint in January this year had denied reports that he is quitting.
Ravikumar, 56, said he has completed a five-year stint at NCDEX and would not like to continue with the exchange for “personal reasons”.
Ramaseshan, a Karnataka cadre Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1983 batch, had sought voluntary retirement in March. His last posting was as chief electoral officer in Karnataka.
By a strange coincidence, all three commodity exchanges in India are seeing top-level reshuffles in April. In the first week of April, Jignesh Shah, managing director and chief executive of Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (MCX), another Mumbai-based commodity exchange which also started operations in 2003, assumed the charge of vice-chairman and Joseph Massey, its deputy managing director, was made the managing director and chief executive.
Ahmedabad-based National Multi-Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (NMCE), India’s first electronic commodity exchange that started operations in 2002, has appointed Anil Mishra as its first chief executive this month even as Kailash Gupta continues to be its managing director.
Mishra, who was earlier working as India manager for Ecom Gill Coffee Trading Pvt Ltd, a Swiss multinational with offices in 55 countries, took charge in the first week of April.
NMCE, 26% owned by the Bombay Stock Exchange, (BSE) has also appointed S.S. Vyas, former chief general manager of BSE, as its first chief operating officer.
NCDEX has seen some of its senior executives leaving or being asked to leave in recent times and there have been rumours that Ravikumar was on his way out.
In fact, Mint had asked Ravikumar in January whether he had quit, and his answer was: “If you’re sure that I have quit, please tell me where am I going. I am tired of telling people that I have not quit. Why should I quit?”
This time around, he said, he is considering a “few options” but has not yet decided on his next assignment.
A former senior executive at ICICI Bank Ltd, India’s top private sector bank, Ravikumar has been running the show at NCDEX since its inception. ICICI Bank, one of the original promoters of the exchange, does not hold any stake in NCDEX now and insiders say the new chief executive and managing director has been chosen by the National Stock Exchange which holds a 15% stake in the exchange.
In fact, Ramaseshan headed the stock exchange’s northern region for two years in late 1990s. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development and Life Insurance Corporation of India too hold 15% each in the exchange.
NCDEX, which ruled commodities trading in India in 2004, has steadily been losing ground to its peer MCX. In 2005, both exchanges were in a close battle for market share, but by the end of 2006, MCX surged ahead. And, by end 2007, NCDEX’s market share dropped to less than 25% and to just around one-third of MCX’s share. Trading volumes were down by 50%.
Ravikumar had held India’s policymakers responsible for curbing trading in agricultural commodities.
In the January interview with Mint, he had discussed his plans to reposition NCDEX by cutting down the share of agri commodities trade on the exchange and focusing on energy and metals trade.
According to him, things have changed since then. “With margins on major agricultural commodities having being brought down and open interest for all major agri-commodities being partially allowed, the exchange has regained the volume. Things are looking up,” he said.
People familiar with developments at the exchange said Ravikumar did not get along well with the commodities market regulator, the Forward Markets Commission, and this could be one of the reasons why he had to go. The outgoing chief executive declined to comment on this.