Aviva India poaches senior Citibanker as CEO

In a surprise move, the head of Citi India retail bank TR Ramachandran resigns and switches to the insurance sector.
Aviva Life Insurance has poached high-level Citibanker TR Ramachandran as the CEO for its Indian operations.

Ramachandran succeeds Bert Paterson who has led Aviva India since September 2006. Ramachandran is the first Indian professional to head the insurance companyÆs operations in India which commenced business in 2002.

Ramachandran is a veteran Citibanker with experience across credit cards, assets, commercial and retail banking over the last 19 years. Most recently he was head of retail banking for the US bank with responsibility spanning wealth management, branch banking, investments and insurance, consumer assets and the non-resident Indian business.

ôAviva in the Asia-Pacific region has a growth target of 20% on a year-on-year basis and India is expected to be one of the key contributors towards the same,ö says Simon Machell, CEO Asia-Pacific in a written statement with respect to the appointment.

Aviva is the UKÆs largest insurance group and the worldÆs oldest, with a history dating back to 1696. Today, it is the fifth largest insurer worldwide, with 45 million customers and ú359 billion ($626.5 billion) in assets under management. Aviva Life Insurance is a joint venture between Indian consumer goods company Dabur and Aviva, in which Dabur owns 74% and Aviva 26%.

The insurance sector in India has already attracted some retail bankers who are keen to head a high-growth business. Further, insurance has some synergies with retail banking inasmuch as it is individual customer-focused. But Aviva has pulled off a coup by bringing on board Ramachandran as Citi is generally considered to have one of the strongest retail banking franchises in India among the foreign banks operating in the country. Media has speculated that Aviva may have been willing to pay aggressively to entice Ramachandran and this may have contributed to his decision, especially as many bankers expect bonuses this year to be severely affected by the global economic crisis.

At Citi India, the country business manager will take on RamachandranÆs role.
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