Citi veteran skips to RBS

Sandeep Ghosh will join RBS to kick-start an offering to serve small and medium enterprises across Asia.
RBS has made a senior regional hire by poaching Sandeep Ghosh from Citi India to spearhead a focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across eight Asian markets.

Ghosh joins RBS as regional head of commercial banking Asia, starting October, say sources close to the news. This is a newly created role at RBS, following the integration with ABN AMRO, intended to drive the bank's commercial banking offering to clients across eight growth markets in Asia and focused on serving SMEs.

Ghosh will be based in Hong Kong and will report to Jim Brown, CEO for retail and commercial markets, Asia at RBS. Ghosh brings to RBS considerable experience with SMEs built over almost a decade in the business with Citi India. The move follows shortly after Citi announced its own re-organisation in the region, although the impact of the new structure on India has been limited, with the head honcho, Sanjay Nayar continuing to run the business for the Indian sub-continent.

Citi established a group specifically focused on SMEs in India in 1998, shortly after it launched this initiative globally in 1996. It grew this business quickly and by mid-2007 it accounted for $2 billion of CitiÆs assets in India. The achievement is more remarkable when you consider that Citi has more than 3,000 clients in this group with an average exposure of less than $1 million per company.

Citi was one of the first multinational banks in India to realise the potential of serving the high-growth, mid-market companies that have the potential to be tomorrowÆs giants. The approach was to ôidentify segments where SMEs which have a competitive advantage and sustainable propositionö, Ghosh told FinanceAsia in an interview last year. The approach required a considerable change from normal banking practices as SMEs generally provide little asset or collateral comfort, so lenders have to be comfortable with a businessÆs ability to generate cash flow.

Today a number of foreign banks operating in India are emulating CitiÆs approach and RBS is gambling that Ghosh can replicate his success for the bank in the region.

Ghosh has been part of this business for Citi since its inception. He first held the marketing, business development and sales function before taking over as the head of commercial banking in 2005. As managing director, Ghosh oversaw the entire SME, middle-market and global multinational client coverage for Citi. Ghosh joined Citi from Pepsi in India where he was category marketing director for the beverages business in South Asia.

RBS and Citi had no comment about the appointment.
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