"After joining CSB Bank, Mondal may later take up a leadership position following a transition period," a source told Moneycontrol.
Pralay Mondal, who recently resigned as executive director and head of retail banking at Axis Bank, is likely to soon join private sector lender CSB Bank (Catholic Syrian Bank) at a senior position in one of the most keenly-watched moves in Indian private banking space, people familiar with the matter told Moneycontrol.
The Kerala-based bank is controlled by India-born Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings, which acquired a 51% stake in CSB in 2018.
“Fairfax is extremely keen to have Pralay Mondal on board due to his tremendous retail experience and they believe retail is the future as far as their plans for CSB Bank are concerned,” said one of the individuals cited above. Mondal is likely to join CSB Bank at a very senior position in a few months, this person said.
Mondal was picked by Axis Bank as part of the new leadership team of Amitabh Chaudhury in April 2019. Mondal has around 30 years of experience across retail banking, business banking, products and technology.
“After joining CSB Bank, Mondal may later take up a leadership position following a transition period,” added a second individual.
Both the individuals spoke to Moneycontrol on condition of anonymity.
Moneycontrol is awaiting email responses from Axis Bank & CSB Bank and will update this article as soon as we hear from them. Fairfax India could not be immediately contacted and a mail has been sent to the firm. When contacted, CSB Bank MD & CEO Rajendaran declined to comment. A text sent to Pralay Mondal was unanswered at the time of publishing this article and he didn’t respond to calls.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the exact new role for Mondal and if he would assume the position of either a Deputy MD or a director at CSB Bank.
According to an official statement from Axis Bank, he is slated to step down post September 14, 2020 “to pursue other opportunities”.
Fairfax-backed Catholic Syrian Bank re-appointed Rajendran Chinna Veerappan as MD and CEO of the bank in December 2019 for three years, which ends on December 8, 2022.
CNBC TV-18 had reported earlier that Mondal resigned from Axis Bank to head to another smaller private sector bank. Veerappan of CSB Bank had dubbed as "market speculations" talk that Pralay Mondal will be joining the bank.
"I am not aware of it. These are market speculations," CVR Rajendran, MD and CEO of CSB Bank, had told the channel.
Axis Bank told exchanges on June 15 that it has initiated the succession planning process for Mondal's position.
WHY DID MONDAL STEP DOWN?
In a statement, Mondal said the resignation was an unanticipated but unavoidable development owing to some personal compulsions.
At Axis Bank, Mondal supervises Branch Banking, Liabilities Sales, Retail Lending, Affluent, NRI & Priority Programs, Cards & Acquiring, Third Party Products, Outbound Contact Centre, Retail Lending & Direct Banking Products, Marketing and Underwriting & Collections of Retail Assets.
Mondal is an engineer from IIT-Kharagpur and a management graduate from IIM-Calcutta. Before joining Axis Bank, he was the Senior Group President and Head of Retail and Business Banking at Yes Bank. He was instrumental in setting up the entire retail franchise in a short period of time. Prior to that he was associated with HDFC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Wipro Infotech & Colgate Palmolive.
According to the Axis Bank website, "his achievements include pioneering the concept of doorstep banking, creating deep geography distribution and rural penetration for the products and scaling up retail businesses."
At Yes Bank, Mondal was part of former chief executive Rana Kapoor's core team. His exit from the bank coincided with the change in top management at the private lender.
CSB BANK: MONDAL’S NEXT DESTINATION?
CSB Bank reported narrowing of losses in the March quarter to Rs 59.69 crore compared with Rs 150.64 crore a year ago. For FY2019-20, it reported a net profit of Rs 12.72 crore as against a loss of Rs 197.42 crore in the year-ago period.
The bank's gross non-performing assets ratio reduced to 3.54 per cent from the year-ago's 4.87 per cent, while the provision coverage ratio was over 80 per cent. The Thrissur-headquartered bank will add 103 branches during FY2021 and will focus more on the business opportunities outside of its home state of Kerala, Rajendran said.
CSB Bank is one of the oldest private sector banks in India with a history of over 98 years, and a strong base in Kerala along with significant presence in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. It offers a wide range of products and services to its overall customer base of 1.3 million as on March 31, 2019, with particular focus on SME, retail, and NRI customers.
Sumit Maheshwari, managing director and CEO of Fairfax’s India investment arm Fairbridge Capital Private Limited, is a non-executive director on the board of CSB Bank.
According to the bank’s website, it delivers products and services through multiple channels, including 414 branches (excluding three service branches and two asset recovery branches) and 277 ATMs spread across 16 states and four union territories as on March 31, 2019, and various alternate channels such as micro ATMs, debit cards, internet banking, mobile banking, point of sale services, and UPI.(Additional reporting by Dinesh Unnikrishnan)