KV Kamath makes a comeback, again!3 min read . Updated: 11 May 2015, 04:43 PM IST
If he takes up the BRICS head post, Kamath will return to a multilateral lending agency after a long gap
If reports are to be believed, K.V. Kamath is back in the reckoning, this time as the chief of the newest multilateral agency—the BRICS Bank. On Monday, Reuters reported the government has cleared Kamath’s name to be the first chief of the BRICS Bank (renamed New Development Bank), whose leadership will be with India for the first six years.
The term BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
If he takes up the job, Kamath will return to a multilateral lending agency after a long gap. He spent eight years at the Asian Development Bank between 1988 and 1996, where he was part of the private sector department. He returned to India to take over as the managing director and CEO of ICICI Bank.
Over his 13-year stint till 2009, Kamath led ICICI Bank’s transition from a largely industrial lender to a retail banking giant, a transition that made ICICI the largest retail lender in the country even though it came with its fair share of troubles.
When Kamath took over in 1996, ICICI Bank had an advances base of Rs650 crore and a deposits base of ₹ 728 crore. By 2009, when he remitted office, the group’s advances and deposits were in excess of ₹ 2.18 trillion. That’s a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 51.5% in advances and 50.29% in deposits. Net profit at the group wentup from ₹ 16.5 crore in 1996 to ₹ 3,758 crore in 2009.
The rapid expansion into the retail market, which coincided with periods of rapid growth in the Indian economy, came with its fair share of troubles, particularly towards the end of Kamath’s tenure.
In October 2008, for instance, rumors of a run on the bank started to circulate on fears that the global financial crisis would start to hit Indian banks as well. ICICI Bank, which had expanded operations to overseas markets, was the first to be hit by such concerns.
In response the bank was forced to clarify that its capital position and capital adequacy ratio were strong, a claim that the government and Reserve Bank of India backed to try and prevent panic in the banking industry.
As the Indian economy slowed post the global financial crisis, ICICI Bank saw an increase in its bad loans, with net non-performing assets rising to 2.12% and gross NPAs rising to 5.06% as of the March 2010 ended quarter.
Post that, the bank spent several quarters cleaning up its books and moving towards safer secured lending options, while reducing the proportion of its unsecured lending book.
Kamath’s second stint, this time in the technology sector, began in April 2011, when the board of Infosys Ltd decided that Kamath would take over as the chairman of Infosys once founder chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy retired in August of that year.
At the time, Kamath was serving as an independent director on the board of Infosys. Kamath stepped down in June 2013 after Narayana Murthy came back to the company he co-founded as chairman of the board. Kamath stayed on at Infosys board member and led the search for a new CEO which ended with Vishal Sikka being appointed in June and taking over as the first non-founder CEO of Infosys in August 2014.
Kamath now heads back to the world of finance with his appointment at the NDB. The agency was conceptualized and approved at a BRICS summit held in 2013.
In 2014, the plan was taken further and it was decided that the headquarters of the BRICS Bank would be in Shanghai while its first president would be from India. The bank will have an initial capital of $100 billion, it was decided then, with the capital likely to be invested in infrastructure development across its member-economies.