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Mumbai: Nilesh Shah will take over as managing director and chief executive officer (MD & CEO) at Axis Capital Ltd, the investment banking arm of Axis Bank Ltd, India’s third largest private sector bank, on 15 November, the bank’s executive director Srinivasan Varadarajan, said on Saturday.

Shah who joined the bank as president, strategic initiatives the corporate banking division, in March 2011 is currently designated deputy chief executive officer (CEO) in Axis Capital. Manish Chokhani, the current MD and CEO at Axis Capital will move over to an “advisory" role, Varadarajan said.

Axis Capital was formed after Axis Bank acquired domestic brokerage and investment banking firm Enam Securities Pvt. Ltd in an all-stock deal. The deal was first announced in November 2010 but went through many changes because the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) refused approval, most notably because Enam’s founder chairman Vallabh Bhansali was offered an Axis bank board seat in the initial deal.

Axis Capital was finally registered in October 2012 and finishes one year of operations on 20 October 2013. Chokhani said the decision for him to step aside was part of the original plan. “It was a part of the transaction roadmap. I have my investments which are in my personal capacity so I would rather focus on that full time," Chokhani said adding that he will be only available for advice in specific instances.

Varadarajan said the bank’s plan was always to pass on the reign to Nilesh Shah. “We had always thought Nilesh was the right person to take over so we had brought him much ahead of time. Manish was with us for a short period to help in the transaction. He is going to stay with us as an advisor to facilitate how we move forward in Axis Capital and the bank," he said.

Shah joined Axis from rival ICICI Bank Ltd’s mutual fund arm ICICI Prudential Asset Management Co Ltd where he was deputy managing director. From the corporate banking division, he went on to become director at the bank’s broking arm, Axis Direct. Last year he was designated as deputy CEO at Axis Capital.

Shah said though the economic slowdown is a challenge, there remain opportunities in the country. “Last year when the equity window stopped we opened other windows like M&A, private equity, structured finance and mezzanine finance. There is a large M&A opportunities today because some groups want to sell their non-core assets and buy into their area of expertise," he said.

Axis Bank group plans to sell its investment banking clients, corporate banking products like savings and salary accounts, home loans and credit cards. This way Varadarajan said fees would keep coming into the banking group one way or another. Axis Capital has also allied with banks based in US, Europe, Korea and China to “help get information and also close transactions globally," Shah said.

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