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Top-level exit at HDFC Bank

Mumbai: In a surprise move, Paresh Sukthankar on Friday resigned as deputy managing director of HDFC Bank without citing any reason.

Sukthankar has been with HDFC Bank since its inception in 1994 and, at present, is responsible for overseeing the bank's credit, finance and human resources functions. He was appointed deputy managing director in 2017.

"We are sorry to see him (Sukhthankar) leave. He did a remarkable job for 24 years. However, we do not have any worries about talent... We wish him well,'' Deepak Parekh, chairman of HDFC, told The Telegraph.

The resignation came as a surprise as Sukthankar was widely perceived to succeed the bank's managing director Aditya Puri whose term will end in October 2020. In May, HDFC Bank had told analysts that it was looking at both internal and external candidates for the top job.

Sources said Sukthankar was persuaded not to leave, but he did not want to stay on at the bank.

"Paresh Sukthankar has tendered his resignation as deputy managing director, to be effective 90 days from the close of business hours of today (Friday)," HDFC Bank said in a regulatory filing post market hours.

"The board of the bank places on record its sincere appreciation for the contribution made by Sukthankar in his long association with the bank and wishes him the very best in his future endeavours.''

The resignation, and particularly its timing, led to speculation that Sukthankar was heading to Axis Bank.

The term of Axis Bank CEO & managing director Shikha Sharma will end in December this year.

Axis Bank recently said its board had shortlisted three candidates for the top post and sent the names to the RBI for approval.

The buzz is that while Amitabh Chaudhury, managing director & CEO of HDFC Life, is the front-runner to replace Sharma, B. Sriram, CEO of IDBI Bank, is also in the race.

Sources at HDFC Bank, however, said while Sukthankar's resignation came as a huge surprise to them, he left because of personal reasons.

Sukthankar has been known for his long experience in risk management, though he has handled other functions, including finance, human resources and investor relations as well.

Prior to joining HDFC Bank, he worked with Citibank for nine years in various departments, including corporate banking, risk management, financial control and credit administration.

Market circles are of the view that his resignation may lead to a knee-jerk reaction on the bourses when trading resumes on Monday. In fact, the HDFC Bank ADR was trading lower by almost 3 per cent on the NYSE on Friday evening.

Sukthankar completed his graduation from Sydenham College, Mumbai, and holds a B. Com degree from University of Mumbai. He did his masters in management studies from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute, Mumbai. He also completed the advanced management programme from Harvard Business School.

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