Seeking to rest speculation, Axis Bank today re-appointed Shikha Sharma as the managing director and chief executive of the third largest private lender for a third term that will last till June 2021. “The board, at its meeting held on July 26, approved the re-appointment of Shikha Sharma as the managing director and chief executive of the bank for a period of three years, with effect from June 1, 2018,” the bank said in a regulatory filing this afternoon. The unusual announcement comes over 11 months ahead of the 59-year-old banker’s current term and within a couple of hours of her own comments earlier in the day that left everyone guessing about her next move.
“You should wait to hear that announcement from the board at the appropriate time. My job right now is to focus on working with the team and doing the best we can for our customers and other stakeholders,” he told reporters earlier in the day. A section of the media had first reported appointment of an executive search firm by the bank to find her successor, which was followed by another report that Tata Sons sounded her out with an offer.
“The appointment of a search firm is in the interest of best governance, given that I’d have done nine years in 2018 with the bank and it doesn’t preclude anything about whether I will do another term or not,” Sharma told reporters, after announcing a Rs 385-crore acquisition of wallet company Freecharge in an all-cash deal. The veteran banker is serving the second term that comes to an end in June 2018. She joined Axis Bank in 2009 with a five-year mandate which was subsequently extended.
According to a recent media report, subsequently denied by the bank, she has been sounded out by Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran to head the conglomerate multiple financial services verticals. “All I can say is that I’m deeply excited about the opportunity of what’s possible in the financial services space in the country,” she told reporters. However, she was quick to add that right now the focus is on building the bank. “We believe that Axis Bank has created some very strong capability in it, we have a strong brand which all customer surveys suggest people who experienced it have liked it. So I think there are lots of exciting things to do in the bank.”
She, however, did not spell out her plans when specifically asked about her future with the bank, saying, “I think the bank has given its comment on the reports. I have nothing more to add as far as that is concerned.” She joined Axis from ICICI Prudential Life where she was the first managing director and chief executive and replaced PJ Nayak, Axis Bank’s first chairman and CEO. Sharma began her career with the erstwhile infra lender ICICI Ltd in 1980 and played a key role in setting up the group’s investment banking business.