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June 11, 1998


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Rana Talwar is next StanChart CEO

Rana Talwar will take over as chief executive of Standard Chartered Plc.

Announcing the appointment, the UK-based multinational bank announced that Talwar would take over from incumbent Malcolm Williamson on October 1.

Williamson will, following his retirement, continue to serve the bank as its non-executive director.

Talwar, 50, the son of a bureaucrat, began his career with the Bombay branch of Citibank. He rose to the head of Citibank's consumer business in the Asia Pacific and Middle-East sectors, before joining StanChart in 1977 as executive director of its African, Middle-Eastern and South Asian operations.

Following his accession to the top job, he will join the elite band of Indians heading foreign entities -- a list that includes Rajat Gupta of McKinsey, and Hatim Tyabji lately of Verifone Inc.

Talwar's USP lies in his broad experience in the group's Asian markets. His appointment, thus, underlines the bank's recent strategy of focussing on the Asian markets.

StanChart has gradually exited from its non-banking operations, notably insurance broking. Simultaneously, it has reduced operations in areas outside US, most noticeably cutting in its home base UK, where its branches are down from a high of 20 to just three at present.

In money terms, StanChart's UK and US operations account for just 14 per cent and 5.6 per cent of total operations, while the Asia Pacific market contributes a whopping 35 per cent.

StanChart thus plans to use the monies freed by cutting back in the UK and the USA to fuel its growing focus on the Asian banking sector. And it is here that Talwar's appointment assumes importance -- he will spearhead the bank's push for a higher profile in the Middle East, South East Asian, and South Asian markets.

Of the above, it is the Indian operations that could test Talwar's abilities to the fullest. The bank suffered a set back, to the tune of one third of its net worth, during the 1992 securities scam. Subsequently, regulatory hurdles have hampered the bank's expansionist plans. And further, recent weeks have seen a renewed spate of allegations that the bank failed to regard warnings from its employees before the scam actually surfaced, and that there is sufficient grounds to suspect senior officials of complicity.


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