|SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya|
The report of her getting an extension for one year came at a time when she is being shorlisted as one of the four key people to replace current RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.
The four were current RBI Deputy Governor Urjit Patel, former...
deputy governors Rakesh Mohan and Subir Gokarn, and State Bank of India Chair Arundhati Bhattacharya.
The finance ministry wants continuity in leadership as state-run SBI absorbs five associate units and Bhartiya Mahila Bank while cleaning up its books of bad loans, they said, adding that the government may fix SBI chairman's tenure at five years, up from three now.
An extension would rule her out as a contender to succeed Reserve Bank of India Governor Rajan, who completes his term in September.
Bhattacharya's three-year term at SBI also ends in September though she reached retirement age in March. She couldn't be reached for comment.
Earlier this month, the cabinet cleared the plan that will see SBI increase in size and possibly become one of the top 50 banks in the world. The bank expects to complete the process by March 2017.
Bhattacharya has said the process will be beneficial for all concerned. "While the network of SBI would stand to increase, its reach would multiply. One can expect efficiencies to be created from rationalization of branches, common treasury pooling and proper deployment of a large skilled resource base," she had said.
The other three contenders for the top post at SBI are managing directors B Sriram, PK Gupta and Rajnish Kumar.
"It was earlier decided that the chairman of SBI should have a fixed tenure and that was why Bhattacharya was given a three-year term," said one of those cited above. "If need be, that can be extended." RBI had also suggested a longer tenure for the chairman of SBI, he said.
In 2015, while selecting private sector candidates for five large public sector banks, the government had offered a fixed, three-year tenure subject to the normal superannuation age of 60 years. That same year saw management reforms being initiated at state-run lenders and the post of chairman and managing director-cum-CEO was split, except for SBI. Going forward, the recently appointed Banks Board Bureau (BBB) led by Chairman Vinod Rai will oversee selection process at state-run banks.
In 2013, Bhattacharya, then 57, created history when she took charge as the first woman chairperson of SBI. Bhattacharya has rich experience across almost all major business segments ranging from retail and corporate finance, treasury and international operations. Her balanced approach on handling issues will be crucial for her top job. She doesn't hesitate to take tough decision. She joined SBI in 1977 as a probationary officer and has served in various positions, including head of SBI Capital Markets Ltd, the bank’s investment banking unit. Bhattacharya had also served as a deputy managing director and corporate development officer at SBI. Bhattacharya also had a brief stint at the Bank’s office in New York.
She played a pivotal role in creating three of the bank’s newest subsidiaries -- in general insurance, custodial services and the SBI Macquarie Infrastructure Fund. Bhattacharya also shared a good rapport with the trade unions.