RBI’s CEO tenure cap: Here’s how it will impact Uday Kotak; HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank safe

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April 28, 2021 1:06 PM

RBI circular stated that the upper age limit for MD and CEO and WTDs in the private sector banks would continue and no person can continue as MD and CEO or WTD beyond the age of 70 years.

RBI, Uday Kotak, Kotak Mahindra Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis bankAnalysts believe that this development is marginally negative for Kotak Mahindra Bank, as Uday Kotak, the promoter MD and CEO, will not be eligible for reappointment once his term gets over.

The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) final guidelines on the tenure of bank MD, CEOs, or Whole Time Director (WTD) will apply to private lenders, small finance banks (SFBs), and wholly-owned subsidiaries of foreign banks. Under the new guidelines, the post of MD and CEO of a private bank cannot be held by the same individual for more than 15 years in one go. While, in the case of a promoter MD/CEO, the tenure will be capped at 12 years. RBI has noted that under special circumstances and at the discretion of the apex bank, the term for promoter CEO may be extended up to 15 years. “Banks such as HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and IndusInd Bank had a change at the helm in the recent past. However, banks like Kotak Mahindra Bank, DCB Bank, City Union Bank, Federal Bank, and RBL Bank have long-running tenures (+10 yrs) of the current MDs,” said Siji Philip and Dnyanada Vaidya, research analysts, Axis Securities.

RBI guidelines negative for Kotak Mahindra Bank

For Kotak Mahindra Bank and City Union Bank, the term extension has already been done till 2024 and 2026, respectively. Analysts believe that this development is marginally negative for Kotak Mahindra Bank, as Uday Kotak, the promoter MD and CEO, will not be eligible for reappointment once his term gets over. However, he will continue to remain a stakeholder in the bank. Uday Kotak got reappointed on January 1, 2021, for a period of three years. “Hence, his tenure will now end on 1 Jan 2024 and he is not eligible for reappointment as he has already completed 15 years as the MD and CEO,” said Suresh Ganapathy, analyst at Macquarie Research in a note.

Banks to comply with RBI guidelines by Oct 1, 2021

Ganapathy also said that the second in line Dipak Gupta (current Joint MD) may not be eligible to succeed Kotak as the CEO as the 15 year cap applies for all whole-time directors (WTD) on the board. RBI circular also stated that the upper age limit for MD and CEO and WTDs in the private sector banks would continue and no person can continue as MD and CEO or WTD beyond the age of 70 years. Banks are permitted to comply with these instructions latest by October 01, 2021. It should be noted that banks with MD and CEOs or WTDs who have already completed 12 or 15 years as MD and CEO or WTD, on the mentioned date these instructions coming to effect, shall be allowed to complete their current term as already approved by the Reserve Bank.

Kotak Mahindra Bank shares were trading nearly 3 per cent higher at Rs 1,799 apiece on BSE in intraday deals on Wednesday. So far, a total of 46,000 shares have traded on BSE, while a total of 19.40 lakh shares have exchanged hands on NSE. RBI also clarified that the individual will be eligible for re-appointment as MD and CEO or WTD in the same bank, if considered necessary and desirable by the board, after a minimum gap of three years, subject to meeting other conditions. “During this three-year cooling period, the individual shall not be appointed or associated with the bank or its group entities in any capacity, either directly or indirectly,” RBI said.

HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank seem fine

According to Ganapathy, the CEOs of HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank have plenty of time and can be the CEO for more than a decade as they were appointed as the CEO recently. HDFC Bank CEO took charge last year whereas ICICI Bank CEO took charge a couple of years ago. Similarly, Axis CEO also can be the CEO for more than a decade.

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