collywood: People in the news

Gita Gopinath joins IMF as first woman chief economist

Eminent academic and former economic adviser to the Kerala government, Gita Gopinath has joined International Monetary Fund as its chief economist, becoming the first woman to occupy the top IMF post. Mysore-born Gopinath joined at a time when she believes the world is experiencing a retreat from globalization, posing challenges to multilateral institutions. The John Zwaanstra professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University, Gopinath, 47, succeeds Maurice (Maury) Obstfeld as Economic Counselor and Director of the IMF’s Research Department. Obstfeld retired on December 31. Announcing her appointment on October 1, IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde described her as “one of the world’s outstanding economists with impeccable academic credentials, a proven track record of intellectual leadership and extensive international experience.” The 11th chief economist of the IMF, Gopinath, in a recent interview to The Harvard Gazette described her appointment at the IMF as a “tremendous honor” and said “the appointment of the first ever woman for this position speaks highly of IMF’s Managing Director Lagarde.” She is phenomenal, not just in her leadership of the IMF but as a role model for women around the world,” she said. Identifying some of her top priorities at the IMF, Gopinath told The Harvard Gazette that she would like IMF to continue to be a place that provides intellectual leadership on important policy questions.

PayU India CEO moves to new role at Naspers

Digital payments company PayU India’s Chief Executive Officer, Amrish Rau is moving into a wider role as the head of financial technology partnerships and investments for Naspers, the company’s South African parent, as per an internal communication sent out to employees recently. The firm is expected to appoint a new CEO soon. Reports said that Naspers is extremely bullish about the scope of fintech disruptions in India and Rau’s role will be to drive acquisitions and partnerships here so that they get to dominate the Indian fintech market. In an internal note, the company said Rau will scout the market for fresh acquisitions in the financial tech sector and create synergies between the group’s portfolio companies.

Govt to look for professionals for top positions in Air India

The government plans to rope in professionals for top positions at Air India through a global search process, as part of efforts to revive the national carrier, said Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu. With the proposed strategic stake sale of the Air India failing to take off in May 2018, the government has been working on various initiatives, including hiving off a significant chunk of over Rs.55,000 crore debt into a special purpose vehicle, to turn-around the ailing airline, according to media reports. Prabhu said that he has already ordered a global search for professionalization of Air India completely. “All top positions in Air India should be filled by some sort of a global search. That proposal is now under active consideration of the government,” said the Minister.

Sudhir Bhargava is new CIC chief

The government has appointed Sudhir Bhargava as the new Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) with effect from January 1. Four new members have also been appointed to the CIC, taking its total strength to seven. Four vacancies still remain. The CIC is the highest appeal body under the Right to Information Act. It has been functioning with just three members since the former chief and several members completed their tenure last month. Bhargava, a former Secretary to the Ministry of Social Justice, was sworn in by President Ram Nath Kovind. He has been a Commissioner since June 2015 and will take over as the ninth chief of the CIC. Like all of his predecessors, he is a retired bureaucrat. The previous chiefs have all been from Central service IAS, IPS and IIS backgrounds.

Axis Bank MD & CEO Shikha Sharma retires

Axis Bank announced its Managing Director and CEO Shikha Sharma has retired, effective December 31, 2018. “We wish to inform you that Shikha Sharma, Managing Director and CEO of Axis Bank Limited, has retired from the services of the bank and has accordingly ceased to be the Managing Director and CEO of the bank, with effect from close of business hours on 31st December 2018,” it said in a regulatory filing. Amitabh Chaudhry will be the new MD and CEO of the bank with effect from January 1, 2019, it said further. Chaudhry, the former MD and CEO of HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company, was in September named the MD and CEO of Axis Bank for a period of three years, with effect from January 1, 2019. Earlier on December 8, Axis Bank had inducted Chaudhry as Additional Director on its board, three weeks ahead of his taking over as the new MD and CEO of the private sector lender. In July 2017, the board of Axis Bank had approved the reappointment of Sharma, who was to start her fourth term as MD and CEO from June 2018. However, in April last year, Sharma wanted her new term to be reduced to seven months from a three-year tenure without citing any reasons, which was accepted by the board.

Egis India appoints Sandeep Gulati as MD

Paris headquartered global engineering company Egis has appointed Sandeep Gulati as the new Managing Director for Egis India. Sandeep has more than 24 years of varied experience and was previously Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei. The Company claims to be one of the top three providers of comprehensive solutions for infrastructure engineering and project management in the country. Remi Cunin, Group COO & Deputy CEO of Egis Group, said, “His strong credentials on governance and compliance are an asset to us.” India has been a very important market for the Group and is one of the three pole countries outside France. The company has invested Rs.400 crore in India for nearly 25 years with capital and technology transfers. Cunin added, “India has a great talent pool and we are looking at setting up a global design centre in India, catering to our global clients from India.” Sandeep Gulati, the new Managing Director of Egis India, said, “Egis India is one of the growth engines of the Group and I am extremely positive about the position we are in at the moment in the country. We have the most diversified portfolio of projects among our peers; having some of the most prestigious projects in the country.”

Nandan Nilekani to lead RBI’s new committee for digital payments

The Reserve Bank of India has formed a new five-member committee to look into issues around digital payments in the country under the leadership of former UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani. The committee named high-level committee for Deepening of Digital Payments comprises members from across the sectors like regulator, government, academics and banking. Former RBI Deputy Governor HR Khan will be a part of the committee along with Ahmedabad-based CIIE Chief Innovation Officer, Sanjay Jain, former CEO of Vijaya Bank, Kishor Sansi and former Secretary in the Ministry of Information Technology and Steel, Aruna Sharma. While laying out the terms of reference for the committee, RBI said that they would consult on matters and provide suggestions around the role of digital payments in financial inclusion, how to accelerate digital payments adoption in the country, strengthen safety and security of payment means and also help increase customer confidence in digital transactions. The committee will submit the report within 90 days after holding its first meeting, the central bank said.

Pavan Vaish to head of central operations at Uber

Taxi aggregator Uber appointed Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kharagpur alumnus Pavan Vaish as the new head of central operations. Vaish, who has 25 years of experience, was co-founder and CEO of Daksh eServices, one of the most successful services acquisition in IBM’s history and spearheaded its integration with IBM. He grew Daksh eServices to a 40,000 people strong organisation. “As we embark on our next wave of growth, we are building and strengthening a team of industry experts and veterans who appreciate the impact of ride sharing and are committed towards innovation for a better tomorrow.” “We are confident that Pavan will play a pivotal role in writing the next chapter in the company’s growth journey,” said Pradeep Parameswaran, President, Uber India & South Asia. Earlier in his career, Vaish co-founded Quadrant Infotech, an offshore data capturing business focused on the US market. “Uber is an iconic brand and the company has played a critical role in shaping India’s ride-sharing ecosystem. In my new role, I look forward to drive the next phase of its growth through operational excellence and strategic innovation,” said Vaish. Vaish has also worked as Global Chief Operating Officer at UnitedLex.

Vivek Bhatia heads thyssenkrupp Industries India

Vivek Bhatia as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of thyssenkrupp Industries India effective from January 1, 2019. With around 1,500 staff in India, thyssenkrupp Industries India is one of the leading service providers in the fields of sugar plants and machinery, open cast mining and bulk material handling systems, cement plants and machinery, industrial boilers and power plants across the world. The business also engages in providing service, spares, revamps, asset management and O&M support to its customers. Vivek was earlier CEO – Asia Pacific at thyssenkrupp AG, driving group activities for all thyssenkrupp companies in the region. Prior to that, he led strategy, markets and development for the Asia Pacific region for the Group and was based in Singapore. Vivek has extensive business experience across mining, metals and mineral processing, cement, power and engineered/capital goods. He has worked across multiple business functions including strategy, operations, and organisation in the areas such as growth/diversification, joint ventures and technology transfers, business turnaround/transformation, working capital management, operations design and re-engineering, organisation design and performance management systems. Commenting on the appointment, Ravi Kirpalani, CEO, thyssenkrupp India said, “I am pleased to welcome Vivek to his new role and thrilled to have his leadership at thyssenkrupp Industries India. Vivek brings unparalleled domain and technical expertise to thyssenkrupp. We wish him all the very best in his new role.” Vivek Bhatia added, “I am truly excited and grateful for the trust placed in me by our global leadership in assigning me to this position. thyssenkrupp Industries India is a global centre of competence and we have a rich 70 plus year history and deep experience of winning and executing industrial projects worldwide. I look forward to working with our dynamic and experienced team and am confident that our technology coupled with our strong engineering tradition and execution capabilities will help us realise our goals.”

Vedanta to invest $8 billion in three years: Navin Agarwal

Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Group said it would invest around $8 billion (about Rs.560 billion) in various business verticals over the next three years as part of its strategy to improve revenue and profitability. “The investment announcement we have made will be mainly via internal accruals as we do not intend increasing the debt going ahead. Our cash flows stood at Rs.79 billion (as on March 31) and we have reduced our gross debt by Rs.85 billion,” Chairman Navin Agarwal said on the sidelines of the company’s 53rd annual general meeting (AGM). In 2018, Vedanta, had record production in its zinc-lead-silver and aluminum businesses, the Chairman said. It is looking at growing its oil and gas business to about 400,000 barrels per day, from the current 200,000 barrels per day.

Tata Coffee elevates Chacko Thomas as MD & CEO

Tata Coffee, the coffee company owned by Tata Global Beverages, has promoted Executive Director and Deputy CEO Chacko Purackal Thomas as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer. “Based on the recommendation of the nomination and remuneration committee, the board of directors of Tata Coffee has appointed Chacko Purackal Thomas as ‘’Managing Director & CEO designate’’ with effect from 24 December, 2018,” the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange. He will take over from Sanjiv Sarin, whose term ends on March 31, 2019. Thomas has over 26 years of rich experience and expertise in plantations, business strategy, sales and marketing and overall leadership. He has been associated with Tata Coffee as the Executive Director and deputy CEO since 2015. Before joining Tata Coffee, he was the Managing Director of Kannan Devan Hills Plantations Company, Munnar, Kerala.

by Orchie Bandopadhyay