Millennium Post

US puppet ADB’s ex-exec bags top post at bank formed to take on US-led West

It’s a $100-billion encore for Kundapur Vaman Kamath, who will be the first head of the five- nation BRICS Bank after transforming banking in India. ICICI Bank, which was founded under Kamath’s leadership in 1994, now commands an asset base of $100 billion, while the New Development Bank of BRICS nations will have initial authorised capital of $100 billion.

Kamath will largely operate from China in his new role at Shanghai-based BRICS Bank -- taking him back to one of his favourite countries where he spent a good amount of time during his tenure at Asian Development Bank, between 1988 and 1996, when he returned to ICICI Bank as its Chief Executive Officer.

The 67-year-old banker, known among his friends as KV, began his career in 1971 at ICICI, the erstwhile financial institution that was incidentally set up at the initiative of another multi-lateral development institution, the World Bank. 

ICICI Bank was later set up as a subsidiary of ICICI Ltd in 1994, while the parent later merged into it in 2002. He led the group’s transformation into a diversified, technology-driven financial services group that has leadership positions across banking, insurance and asset management in India and abroad. Back in 2008, when ICICI Bank was hit by widespread rumours of ‘run-on-the-bank’, Kamath led from the front and brought everything back into order, even as bank customers were queueing up before its branches to withdraw funds. 

He retired as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer in April 2009, and became its non-executive Chairman.Kamath, a mechanical engineer and an MBA from prestigious IIM-Ahmedabad, has also been on board of several other companies, including that of Information Technology giant Infosys where he also serves as a non-executive Chairman. 

A Padma Bhushan awardee, Kamath has always been a believer in the India growth story, including during the years of slower growth. 

Recently too, when some industry leaders including another eminent banker Deepak Parekh, expressed dismay over delay in reforms, Kamath remained confident about deliverables of the new government. He went to the extent of chiding the industry leaders to first set their own houses in order by improving their balance sheets.

Friends, colleagues and other industry leaders have known Kamath as a man of ‘big ideas and big numbers’. When the entire world was heading towards a deep meltdown in 2008-2009, Kamath continued to exude confidence in the long-term growth potential of Indian economy, the Indian banking sector and the Indian markets.

In an interview to Press Trust of India, Kamath had said that he wanted a few Indian banks, including ICICI Bank, to be part of what he called ‘Ivy League of global banks’. He had also forecast that a few banks from China would also be part of that league. 

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