Credit Suisse hires Vedika Bhandarkar to head investment banking for India

Vedika Bhandarkar, who was previously head of India investment banking at J.P. Morgan, joins Credit Suisse as vice-chairman for India and brings Sandeep Pangal along with her.

Credit Suisse is shaking up investment banking in India with the hire of industry veterans Vedika Bhandarkar and Sandeep Pangal from J.P. Morgan.

Credit Suisse has appointed Bhandarkar as vice-chairman for India and head of its investment banking and global markets solutions group in India. Bhandarkar was most recently head of investment banking for J.P. Morgan in India -- a position she has held in Mumbai since 1998. She began her career with the ICICI group in 1989.

Joining Bhandarkar in the move to Credit Suisse is Sandeep Pangal, a managing director for investment banking at J.P. Morgan in India, who has been with the US bank since 1999.

Bhandarkar will report locally to Mihir (Micky) Doshi, Credit Suisse's chief executive officer for India, and regionally to Vikram Malhotra and Helman Sitohang, who co-head investment banking for Asia-Pacific since March 2009. Pangal will report to Bhandarkar.

"India is central to our strategy and we are confident that Vedika and Sandeep can build on our momentum to take the business to the next level," said Malhotra in a comment on the hires.

The hires signal how eager Credit Suisse is to win a bigger share of the investment banking pie in India. Traditionally, India has not been a very lucrative market for investment banking revenues, but a number of firms are forecasting that this is set to change and are putting in place a strategy to tap this potential.

Credit Suisse began the relaunch of a full suite of investment banking products in India in a phased manner in 2004 and appointed veteran Morgan Stanley banker Doshi as country head in January 2006. Doshi went on to hire Venkat Anantharaman from Standard Chartered in September 2006 to head investment banking. Anantharaman was charged with building the investment banking team and the bank was hiring aggressively for a while. However, the financial crisis forced a downsizing at the end of 2008 and Credit Suisse let go of some senior investment bankers who it had hired from rival firms earlier that same year.

Anantharaman will continue to work with Credit Suisse in a senior client coverage role, said a Credit Suisse spokesperson. The Swiss bank's decision to replace him as head of investment banking suggests that it is hoping that the fresh blood from J.P. Morgan will kick-start its investment banking business.

Bhandarkar and Pangal will join Credit Suisse later this year after serving customary gardening leave, said the spokesperson.

Earlier this year Credit Suisse received in-principle approval to open a bank branch in Mumbai, which will further strengthen its onshore presence in India. It launched wealth management in India in 2008.

For J.P. Morgan, the departure of the investment banking duo comes close on the heels of another senior departure. In March, Kaku Nakhate, who joined J.P. Morgan last year as vice-chairman to provide a fillip to the US bank's equities and derivatives business, decided to return to her former employer, Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Nakhate also took part of the team who also moved to J.P. Morgan India last year back with her to BoA Merrill.

J.P. Morgan had no comment on the departures or on who will be replacing Bhandarkar.

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