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BW Businessworld

Best Bank 2011

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Picture This: A pleasant November evening, with the cream of the Indian banking industry — in the shape of the chief executive officers and their senior colleagues — the best and brightest among the non-bank financial services industry (and some of their clients), CEOs from the corporate world, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as the guest of honour for the evening, all assembled in the Trident Hotel in Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex. Welcome to the third edition of the Businessworld Best Bank Awards.

Managing director and CEO of the ABP (Anandabazar Patrika) Group — which publishes Businessworld — D.D. Purkayastha applauded the nation's banks on successfully navigating a global crisis that felled their bigger western contemporaries.

Businessworld editor Prosenjit Datta underscored a few key challenges: higher non-performing assets, slowing credit demand, rising inflation and stricter capital standards. But, he pointed out, the Businessworld-PricewaterhouseCoopers Best Banks Survey 2011 showed that our banks were up to the task of meeting them.

This year's winners were conferred their titles by a four-member jury with decades of experience in financial sector behind them:
B. Sambamurthy, director of the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) and former chairman and managing director of Corporation Bank; Y.M. Deosthalee, chairman and managing director of L&T Finance Holdings; Ajay Srinivasan, chief executive, Aditya Birla Financial Services; and Mihir Doshi, managing director and country head, Credit Suisse.

In his address, the finance minister — who was presenting the awards for the third year in a row — said the awards lauded growth of the Indian banking sector and the role they play in the development of the Indian economy. Collective measures need to be taken, the finance minister pointed out, to emerge from the present crisis. "We have the fundamentals to take our economy on a sustained growth ladder," he said to the august assembly. "The Indian banking system is well-capitalised with moderate levels of leverage compared with their global counterparts."

However, he observed, there remains significant scope for the growth of banking assets from the current levels of 30 per cent of GDP. The prudent risk practices that our banks follow make them far safer than their global peers. The Businessworld Best Bank Awards 2011 are the result of a survey conducted by BW in association with its knowledge partner PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and is based on four key parameters: growth, size, sustainability of operations and risk. This year's awards celebrated steady and consistent growth. As one of the jury members pointed out, "It was good to be fast, but not furious".

Karur Vysya Bank, last year's winner of the Best Small Bank Award continued its winning spree, by bagging the same award again. It also won the Fastest Growing Small Bank trophy. Managing director and CEO K. Venkataraman received both the awards. Yes Bank won the award for the Fastest Growing Mid-Size Bank, a winner for three years in a row, while Bank of Baroda won the Fastest Growing Large Bank Award. Bank of Baroda's chairman and managing director M.D. Mallya, who accepted the award, was also crowned the Banker of the Year.
In the Best Bank category, HDFC Bank's managing director Aditya Puri was felicitated in the large bank segment, while IndusInd Bank's Romesh Sobti bagged the award in the Mid-Size category. He was also commended for turning the bank around.
The Most Socially Responsive Bank was Punjab National Bank, and executive director Usha Ananthasubramanian received it on behalf of K.R. Kamath, chairman and managing director. ICICI Bank made it second in a row by winning this year's award for the Most Tech-Friendly Bank.
The lifetime achievement award went to Narayanan Vaghul, former ICICI Bank chairman, and one of the most storied bankers of the past three decades. Unfortunately, he couldn't be there to accept the award and ICICI bank's Pravir Vohra accepted the trophy on his behalf. These awards, recognising excellence in banking, would not have been possible without our sponsors: presenting sponsor —Videocon Group; associate sponsor — Apollo Munich Health Insurance Company; partner — The Glenlivet; and television partner — NDTV Profit. We owe them our thanks.

Click to view a slideshow on the Best Bank Awards 2011

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 12-12-2011)