Citi has appointed Pramit Jhaveri as chief country officer for Citi in India. FinanceAsia has earlier reported the likelihood of this happening following the resignation of Mark Robinson who was head of Citi for South Asia, including India.
Jhaveri will report to Shirish Apte who is co-chief executive officer for Asia-Pacific together with Stephen Bird. Apte's responsibilities span Oceania, Southeast Asia and South Asia, while Bird looks after North Asia.
In appointing Jhaveri, Citi has chosen another veteran Citi banker to lead its India franchise. Jhaveri has worked with Citi for 23 years. However, in stark contrast to Robinson, who had never worked in India and not even spent much time in Asia, Jhaveri has spent most of his working career in India and is very familiar with the country.
However, Jhaveri will not be doing exactly the same job as Robinson, or Robinson's predecessor, Sanjay Nayar. Both Robinson and Nayar were head of Citi for South Asia, which included India as well as Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In the new structure, Jhaveri will have charge of India, while the neighbouring country heads will now report directly into Apte.
Jhaveri was most recently head of global banking for India, as well as vice-chairman of Asia investment banking. The vice-chairman role was a promotion he earned in November 2007 and in addition to his responsibilities as head of India investment banking. Jhaveri's investment banking credentials are impeccable. On his watch, Citi's investment banking team has played a leading role on many of the large deals undertaken by corporate India in the past few years, spanning equities, loans and mergers and acquisitions. Citi is a formidable player in investment banking, holding its own and in some instances bettering the pure Wall Street investment banks.
The challenge for Jhaveri will be to quickly come to grips with Citi's presence in consumer and commercial banking across 42 branches and subsidiaries in India and to ensure these businesses, which he did not earlier lead, are in a leadership position in the country and are profitable. Citi is well-entrenched among foreign banks in India and it has been growing aggressively. The growth has brought with it some setbacks. For example, Citi has suffered delinquencies in some of its businesses in the aftermath of the credit crisis. Jhaveri inherits some of these problems.
Also, a number of foreign banks are increasing their focus on wholesale banking in India as they rethink their asset allocation strategies, said a source. Standard Chartered's success in India is well-documented and banks such as Barclays and The Royal Bank of Scotland are also increasing their focus on India. Some specialists expect that, for a number of banks, the largest increase in risk-weighted assets will be in Asian economies growing at good rates and India will be one of these. In the balance, Jhaveri takes on the mantle of heading Citi India at a challenging time and it remains to be seen in what direction he takes the business.