The man behind India’s largest bank hangs up his boots

Aditya Puri, popularly known as the (Amitabh) Bachchan of Banking in India, is hanging up his boots after being at the helm of the country’s largest private sector bank for a good 25 years.

HDFC Bank was incorporated in 1994 and since then Puri, now 70, has been its managing director, and is largely credited for propelling it into becoming India’s most valued private lender with a market capitalisation of over USD 100 billion.

Puri, also the father of Bollywood actress Amrita Puri who featured in several hit films like Kai Po Che! and Aisha, joined HDFC Bank after a two-year stint at Citibank as its CEO of Malaysia operations.

“Thank You, Mr. Aditya Puri for 25 glorious years,” reads a gigantic wall hanging outside the HDFC Bank’s headquarters in Mumbai, which has been recently put up by its over 1 lakh employees to express their gratitude to India’s longest-serving private bank head.

The departure of the country’s highest paid banker will pave the way for his second-in-command and a colleague of 24 years Sashidhar Jagdishan to assume the reins of the bank on October 27.

“I wouldn’t go into the qualities he possesses because most of us would know that. Suffice to say that in him you have the best person to lead, and I have the worthiest person to hand over the baton to,” Puri recently wrote to his employees about his successor.

The legacy of Puri, a qualified chartered accountant, is outstanding. Under his leadership, HDFC Bank has grown leaps and bounds, successfully leaving behind several new banks in cut-throat competition in the world of finance over the years.

“Puri has created such a robust system that the bank will continue to outperform its peers for years to come. His departure may cause a momentary plunge in the bank’s share prices but the long-term story is intact,” Delhi-based economist Nayana Singhal told UNB.

Rumours have been doing the rounds in India’s financial corridors for some time now that Puri could join billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani-owned oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries’ subsidiary Jio Payments Bank on its board after leaving HDFC Bank.

However, there has been no official confirmation from Puri yet on this, though in some media interviews he had expressed his willingness to take up board positions in domestic or global firms, post-retirement, apart from following his passion — golf.

But what bolsters the second innings theory of the ace banker is Puri’s recent decision to sell over 0.13 percent stake at HDFC Bank, which many experts believe could be linked to the fact that he wants to move forward without carrying any baggage.

“Puri will be an asset to any organisation, given his proven record as the country’s top banker,” said Singhal.

Reliance Jio is India’s newest major mobile operator. Since its grand launch in 2016, the telecom operator has attracted over 400 million subscribers to its network by offering free voice calls and data at very low prices.

Reliance Industries has already launched the Jio Payments Bank and reportedly plans to expand its services “with someone like Puri at his helm”.

Source: United News of Bangladesh