DBS boss Gupta faces biggest challenge in Indonesia

Sun Apr 1, 2012 5:36am EDT
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Kevin Lim and Saeed Azhar

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - After two years of hard work to improve Singapore's largest bank and lift its underperforming Hong Kong unit, DBS Group (DBSM.SI: Quote) chief executive Piyush Gupta is embarking on his biggest challenge yet - a bid for Indonesia's Bank Danamon BDMN.JK.

Gupta, 52, a graduate of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, joined DBS in November 2009 from Citigroup (C.N: Quote) where he was last head of Southeast Asia and Australasia.

"You look at the results in the last two years and look at all the operational metrics - you've seen an incredible story there," Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, head of portfolio management at Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings TEM.UL, told Reuters in a recent interview. "It augurs well for DBS."

Now a Singapore citizen, Gupta has spent a large part of his career in India and Southeast Asia, areas where DBS is keen to grow. Those who know him say he is meticulous and hardworking but some question his abilities as a visionary leader.

His achievements at DBS include strong growth in private and premium banking, a higher market share in loans and a foothold in the fast-growing area of yuan-denominated offshore bond issuance and deposits by tapping into the bank's relatively large presence in Hong Kong.

DBS had record net profit of more than S$3 billion ($2.39 billion) last year and ranked top earlier this year in customer satisfaction among the city-state's financial institutions in a survey by Singapore Management University.

Before Gupta's arrival, DBS was often criticized for poor service, high workforce turnover and hiring outsiders, many of them foreigners, to replace long-serving local staff. A popular joke at the time was that DBS stood for "Don't be Singaporean".

Temasek, which owns 29 percent of DBS, is in talks to sell its 68 percent stake in Danamon to the Singapore lender in a deal likely to be worth more than $3.2 billion.   Continued...

 
DBS Bank's CEO Piyush Gupta walks in front of the bank's logo after a news conference in Singapore in this May 7, 2010 file photo. After two years of hard work to improve Singapore's largest bank and lift its underperforming Hong Kong unit, DBS Group chief executive Gupta is embarking on his biggest challenge yet - a bid for Indonesia's Bank Danamon. Picture taken May 7, 2010. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/Files