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ICICI Board Divided Over Chanda Kochhar’s Future as CEO, Says Report

ICICI Chairman MK Sharma had on March 30 revealed that Kochhar was part of the committee that approved loans to the Videocon group, but denied any quid pro quo on the latter’s part.

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Updated:April 9, 2018, 2:38 PM IST
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ICICI Board Divided Over Chanda Kochhar’s Future as CEO, Says Report
File photo of ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar. (PTI)
New Delhi: ICICI Bank Ltd’s board of directors is for the first time divided in its opinion about asking CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar to step down from her post. The change in stance comes less than two weeks after the board expressed “full faith” in her.

According to a report by Bloomberg, as authorities investigate allegations of impropriety over loans made to Videocon group, people with knowledge of the matter said there are a few directors in favour of her vacating the post.

“At least some outside directors are opposed to Kochhar continuing in her role,” people aware of the matter told Bloomberg. The board may meet this week to consider its next course of action, the people said.

Kochhar’s current tenure as CEO is supposed to end on March 31, 2019.

ICICI Chairman MK Sharma had on March 30 revealed that Kochhar was part of the committee that approved loans to the Videocon group, but denied any quid pro quo on the latter’s part.

Addressing a press conference — the second one by the bank in Kochhar’s defence — Sharma denied any conflict of interest.

“The Board doesn’t believe it represents a conflict as Videocon Group is not an investor in NuPower Renewables. Hence, there was no need for Chanda Kochhar to recuse herself from the committee,” Sharma had said on Thursday.

ICICI, the country’s second largest private bank, is embroiled in a controversy after a blog post highlighted a letter written by one of its shareholders to the Prime Minister and Finance Minister. The letter alleged a nexus between Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables and Videocon Group Chairman Venugopal Dhoot, and thereby ICICI Bank’s involvement in saving Videocon Group from debt defaults.

The bank’s Board has mounted a strong defence of Kochhar, saying it has full faith and confidence in her and described reports against her regarding as "malicious and unfounded rumours". The board, after a meeting late on Wednesday, concluded that there was no favouritism or conflict of interest in granting of loans to Videocon Industries.

"No individual employee, whatever may be his or her position, has the ability to influence the credit decision at the bank,” the ICICI Bank said in a BSE filing after the board meeting.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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