Vishal Kampani has big shoes to fill as his father is close to the Ambanis, the Wadias and the Ruias, says Dev Chatterjee.
When Nimesh Kampani, 70, founder-chairman of JM Financial group, announced his retirement from the group earlier this week, it surprised many in Corporate India where the retirement age for promoters is almost missing.
But what did not come as a surprise was the appointment of his son, Vishal, who was groomed by Nimesh as his successor for the last two decades as the managing director from October 1.
Vishal, who joined the group in 1997, says one of the most important lessons he learnt while working with his father was to be humble and honest.
Nimesh bhai, as he is called in Mumbai’s corporate circles, is well known among warring business families as a trusted deal-maker and a friend.
“Hopefully I will have the same rapport my father shared with all of them,” says Vishal, 39.
He has big shoes to fill as his father is close to the Ambanis, the Wadias, the Ruias besides being an adviser to the Tatas and Lakshmi Mittal on marquee M&A and fund-raising deals.
An alumnus of the London Business School, Vishal is currently looking after JM Financial Products, the group’s non-banking finance company and also heads the institutional securities business which consists of investment banking, institutional equities and fixed income securities.
Vishal also launched the asset reconstruction business in 2008 and the real estate and commercial finance businesses in 2009.
“I was directly looking after four businesses till now and though I was aware of what was going on in other businesses, I will now take direct charge from October 1,” he says.
“We became number one in fund raising business (QIPs) and M&As last year,” he said soon after his appointment was announced.
Vishal joined the JM Financial group quite early as an analyst in the merchant banking division and has since moved up through the ranks and worked across businesses within the group.
In 1999, he went to work with Morgan Stanley in New York, in the equity capital markets group, where he was involved in structuring creative products for the firm’s top clients from the Fortune 500 companies.
After returning to India in a year, Vishal worked as a senior banker in the investment banking division of JM Morgan Stanley, which was then a joint venture between JM Financial group and Morgan Stanley.
After Morgan Stanley and JM Financial parted ways in 2007, Vishal and his father decided to invest the Rs 1,900 crore received from Morgan Stanley to grow the financial services business.
The Kampanis also joined hands with former Citibank CEO Vikram Pandit to launch a venture called JM Financial Credit Solutions that is engaged in real estate financing.
“This business is doing very well and we made Rs 200 crore profits in the last fiscal,” Vishal says.
So will JM Financial, under the new MD, apply for a banking licence? Vishal says he is not in a hurry.
“There is no race now as the bank licence is available on tap. We will first consolidate our businesses,” he adds.
With Kampani senior taking a backseat, it would be interesting to see how the younger Kampani drives the growth of JM Financial in a cut-throat market.