Indian banker makes his way to top of Citibank

By agencies   |   Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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WASHINGTON: A top Indian banker has been named CEO of Citigroup’s international operation, affirming the growing clout of Indian corporate, management and financial honchos who have migrated to the international playing field.

Ajay Banga, 45, an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus who joined Citigroup in India only in 1996, will succeed Marjorie Magner, chairman and chief executive of the company’s Global Consumer Group, who is leaving after what has been a continuous bloodletting that has resulted in the exit of several top executives.

Banga will share his job with Steven Freiberg, who was named CEO of the groups North American operations. Both will report to the Citigroup CEO Charles Prince.

The promotion will make Banga the top-ranked Indian in a group that has drawn scores of managers from the Indian talent pool, as have many international banks and multinationals in recent years. It also puts him in line for the very top job.

The highest-ranking Indian in Citigroup till his recent retirement was Victor Menezes, who started as a Citibank trainee in 1972 and rose to become the bank’s president and senior vice-chairman of Citigroup. He was briefly in line to succeed Sandy Weil as chairman of the group before he was eclipsed.

A similar trend is noticeable in other financial institutions such as HSBC, Standard Chartered, American Express, and Merrill Lynch.

Banga began his business career as a management trainee with Nestle in 1981. He spent the next 13 years in a variety of assignments spanning sales, marketing and general management. He later joined PepsiCo, in its Restaurants Division and launched Pizza Hut and KFC in India.

After joining Citigroup in 1996, he worked in London and Brussels before moving to New York and going on to his current job as executive vice-president of the Global Consumer Group and president of the Retail Banking in North America organization.

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