Chitra Ramkrishna's decision to quit NSE is based on differences with the board on key issues, including the exchange's IPO, said people familiar with the matter
Chitra Ramkrishna, managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) of the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd (NSE), has resigned, according to an NSE statement issued on Friday.
The resignation comes at a time when the exchange is preparing for its initial public offering (IPO), slated for January.
“The board of directors of NSE met today and accepted her resignation," the statement said. “Ramkrishna tendered her resignation due to personal reasons."
J. Ravichandran, who serves as group president (finance and legal) and company secretary at NSE, has been named interim managing director and CEO of the country’s largest stock exchange in terms of volumes.
Ramkrishna’s tenure would have ended in 2018. She was appointed as NSE head in April 2013 for a period of five years, replacing then chief Ravi Narain.
While NSE’s market share has grown to 86% in cash equities and nearly 100% share in equity derivatives in her tenure, the exchange has also faced a number of controversies such as the one over its proposed listing, alleged irregularities on its co-location platform and hiring of external consultants at senior levels.
Shareholders and the exchange management were seen to be at loggerheads on the listing. Shareholders were seeking an early listing to help them exit NSE. However, the management was not keen to list on a rival exchange, as stipulated under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) regulations.
NSE’s plans to go public began to gather steam after Ashok Chawla, former chairman of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), took charge as the exchange’s chairman in May this year. NSE is currently in the process of obtaining the assent of shareholders who are willing to tender their shares in its offer for sale, the deadline for which expires on 7 December.
A Sebi panel in March found that NSE’s systems were manipulated to the extent that certain brokers gained an unfair advantage while trading on its algorithmic trading platform. This led to the regulator writing to the board of NSE, directing a forensic audit of its systems and filing of a report with the regulator.
The NSE board has constituted a search committee as prescribed under the Securities Exchange and Clearing Corporation regulations. The committee will include two public interest directors, said two people familiar with the developments.
The NSE board has 11 members, of whom five are public interest directors.
“The NSE board would adhere to Sebi guidelines on hiring the new chief of NSE. The board would ensure that IPO plans and timelines are not affected by the management changes," said one the two people cited above.
Ramkrishna’s decision to move on from NSE marks the end of an era, as she was part of the team that set up the exchange in the early 1990s.
A chartered accountant by training, she got her first job in project finance with IDBI Bank in 1985. It was during that stint that she was deputed to the team that worked on a draft legislation for setting up market regulator Sebi in 1987.
She returned to IDBI’s treasury desk in 1990, before being asked to join NSE’s founding team in 1992. The NSE team was mandated to develop technology to move from open-outcry trading to electronic, untested in India at the time.
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