Extension for LIC, UBI chiefs?

Posted on January 19, 2011 | View 738

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The decision of the finance ministry on the tenures of two CEO’s in the financial sector will be watched with great interest. This relates to the term of LIC chairman, TS Vijayan, and CMD of Union Bank of India, MV Nair. Both of them have completed their five-year tenure, but unlike many CEOs, they are not yet 60 — the age for retirement. That would mean looking at two options — either an extension or a new assignment for them. 

The Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India, or SUUTI as it popularly known, had little to do over the last year or so. But the government is now set to appoint a new administrator for the undertaking, which still warehouses substantial investments in ITC, L &T and Axis Bank. A former IAS officer, US Bhatia, who was India’s Ambassador to WTO, will now succeed KN Prithviraj, former CMD of Oriental Bank of Commerce. 

RBI deputy governor, Subir Gokarn, was the guest speaker last week in a seminar organised by Ficci. Soon after his keynote address, the media cornered him, in an effort to get a sound byte on rising inflation and a slowdown in economic growth. Mr Gokarn found it difficult to wriggle out. But he had his way. The deputy governor changed tack by putting a counter question, “Can anyone remind me which month are we in? When reporters said ‘January,’ he quickly said, “Ah! It is a silent period for RBI (since RBI monetary policy is announced this month)” and walked off. It is another matter that early this week, RBI governor D Subbarao moved the money market with his comments that RBI is desperate to control inflation. 

Thailand-based Chawlas have sold a 4.5% of their stake in Catholic Syrian Bank in the past two months, bringing down their holding to around 17%. The Reserve Bank of India had told Chawlas to bring down their stake below 10%. The NRI family may be very close to achieving this with the regulator directing the Kerala-based private lender to list its shares. The timing and size of the proposed IPO, which will further dilute the stake, have not yet been finalised. 

Next time you stop on a traffic signal, think about the ‘economics of beggary’. While there is no pride in the profession, these men and women of all ages hanging around in street corners and railway platforms, are not dependent on the government. And, their consumption behaviour provides certain linkages to the economy. Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at rating agency CARE, explores such quirks in daily life and the economic rationale behind them in his recently released book Eco-Quirks. Mr Sabnavis looks into aspects like zero-inventory and pricing strategy by vegetable vendors, business models of fast-food outlets, money churning during festivals, economics of bribery and many other things we take for granted.

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