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After 28 months, UTI finally gets MD in Leo Puri

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 21:33

Mumbai: Leo Puri on Wednesday became the first non-IAS officer to lead UTI Mutual Fund, which has been headless since February 2011 after then chief U K Sinha moved out to head SEBI.

Puri's appointment also marks a break from the convention as the board and the shareholders of the fifth largest fund house, in which the government is the largest shareholder, agreed to split the post of chairman and managing director.

The appointment came after approval of shareholders who met today here, a company statement said.

The government holds its stake in UTI through State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda and Life Insurance Corporation which hold 18.5 percent each, while US investment manager T Rowe Price owns 26 percent.

Puri had earlier reportedly failed to make it to the list after public shareholders said that his qualifications did not meet the conditions mentioned in the advertisement put out by the fund house.

After being rudderless for 28 months, Puri's appointment is likely to provide the much-needed impetus to the public sector fund house in a highly competitive environment.

Puri holds a double Masters from Oxford and Cambridge and has over three decades of experience in the financial services space.

Puri joins UTI from McKinsey & Co where he was director and senior advisor. Prior to his stint at the firm, he was the managing director with the private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

UTI Mutual Fund is one of the largest mutual funds in the country with assets under management of Rs 74,706 crore and has nearly 1 crore investor accounts, under its 88 domestic schemes as of end June.

Last month, the UTI board had reportedly agreed to a proposal to split the CMD's post and decided to bring in an outsider as the MD and a public sector veteran as the chairman.

Puri's appointment was in fact cleared by the main shareholders last month but it was not sure whether he would take up the post of MD alone, as the initial proposal was to make him the CMD.

A formal announcement was held back, according to sources, due to the differences between shareholders and trustees over the profile of the new head.

Its single largest foreign shareholder T Rowe Price has been pushing for a professional to head the company since February 17, 2011, when the then chairman and managing director U K Sinha resigned to join markets watchdog Sebi as its chairman.

Reportedly, the US firm was supporting Puri's candidature for the top post at UTI from the beginning.

Since Sinha's departure, there have been many attempts getting a new CMD but to no avail.

One of the first candidatures was that of senior bureaucrat Jitesh Khosla, but his name was opposed by T Rowe Price saying they would support only a professional with experience in the financial services space.


First Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 21:33
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