Morgan Stanley India appoints Nayak as country head

Morgan Stanley recruits a heavy-hitter to oversee its growth in India with the hire of UTI veteran PJ Nayak as CEO and country head.

Morgan Stanley has made a high-profile hire, appointing erstwhile UTI veteran P Jayendra Nayak as chief executive officer and country head for India.

Nayak will continue to be based in Mumbai. He replaces Narayan Ramachandran who resigned as country head earlier this year to focus on development activities. Ramachandran has taken on a role as senior adviser to Morgan Stanley, particularly with regard to its wealth management businesses.
 
In hiring Nayak, Morgan Stanley is adopting a different strategy from the earlier Ramachandran appointment. Ramachandran was a veteran Morgan Stanley banker, with the firm since 1996, who had spent much of his career overseas. He moved to India in 2006 as chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley Investment Management and a year later took over as country head.
 
In contrast, Nayak has spent most of his working life in India. He is well-versed on how to navigate the corridors of power in India as he started his career as one of the country's ruling elite in the Indian Administrative Service. From 1990 until 1995 he worked in the Ministry of Finance and then became an executive trustee at the country's largest mutual fund, the Unit Trust of India. When UTI started a bank, UTI Bank, which has since been renamed Axis Bank, Nayak took over as chairman and CEO. He headed the bank between 2000 and 2009. Axis Bank has become one of India's leading private sector banks.

All Morgan Stanley businesses in India will report to Nayak, as well as to their relevant global business heads.

"India is a global priority for Morgan Stanley and we've made significant investments and inroads in the country," Owen Thomas, Morgan Stanley's chief executive officer for Asia, said in an exclusive conversation with FinanceAsia following the appointment. "Dr Nayak has a senior network of relationships across India and current experience dealing with the government and regulators -- both are expected to be very helpful to Morgan Stanley as we seek to continue to build our India franchise."

Nayak resigned from Axis Bank in early 2009, when the bank chose to appoint outsider Shikha Sharma as CEO rather than to promote from within. Indeed, Nayak is someone who is generally highly regarded as being straight-speaking and some sources said this will be an asset to Morgan Stanley as it seeks to grow in India. 
 
For Nayak the appointment is a comeback of sorts. When he left Axis Bank he took on the role of operating partner at private equity firm Advent International and subsequently the non-executive chairman's role at Motilal Oswal Asset Management. However, neither job kept Nayak in the limelight as his years at the helm of Axis Bank had done. Nayak will now be resigning his Advent and Motilal Oswal roles.
 
J.P. Morgan recently adopted a similar strategy of hiring a veteran Indian banker, familiar with regulators and the government. After a series of country heads who were flown in from abroad --most recently Dominic Price who is now with the firm in Vietnam -- J.P. Morgan in 2008 hired Kalpana Morparia as country head and chairman. Morparia was a career ICICI Bank employee who retired as a director on ICICI's board in 2007.
 
For its part, Morgan Stanley has been rebuilding its India franchise since its split from joint venture partner JM Financial in 2007. It is now present across private equity, infrastructure investing, onshore wealth management and primary markets.

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