Mumbai: Vikram Limaye, National Stock Exchange of India’s (NSE) newly selected chief executive officer and managing director will become the first person to helm India’s largest bourse outside its founding team.
He takes over at a time when NSE is battling governance issues and charges of giving unfair access to some stockbrokers on its algorithmic trading platform.
The key priorities on taking over would include sorting regulatory issues and smoothly listing the exchange, Limaye said in an interview. Edited excerpts:
What would be your priorities at NSE?
To make sure all the issues with the regulator are sorted out, then focusing on the IPO (initial public offer) and the strategy surrounding business development and growth. To work with the government, the regulator and market participants for overall development of the market. The immediate priority for NSE is to go public. The situation is not very different from when I joined IDFC, 12 years ago. Even at that time there was a management void and IDFC had to be taken public in 6 months. So I have experience of not only listing a company but also managing a listed entity.
How do you look at this opportunity? It is quite a shift from your earlier role at IDFC.
From a business perspective, there would be new products, new areas of business, there could be newer geographic expansion. So, overall, the opportunity is very interesting.
(The) financial services (business) is not that complex. A transition wouldn’t be an issue. I certainly have a broad understanding of the (capital markets) business—both domestic and international. Even at IDFC, other than the lending business, we had other non-lending businesses such as private equity, asset management and securities. This role at NSE also requires the ability to deal with the regulator and government; that also I have done.
Do you think there are challenges when an outsider takes over as the head?
Everybody at NSE has done an outstanding job because without that, NSE wouldn’t have been at the level where it is now.
It is a very well respected organization of national importance. So, when you join, you have to recognize that and make sure you do your bit in leaving behind the organization in a better shape. It is not about founder versus outsiders, it is about leaving behind the organization in a better shape than you inherited. My job is to improve this organization from where it is to where it can go.
Questions have been raised on governance of the exchange, lack of transparency, fight with shareholders and allegation of unfair access to certain brokers. You have joined at a time when you might need to literally fire fight?
All these issues are surmountable. What it requires is working with the regulator to sort out whatever issue has been raised. The credibility and reputation of NSE is exceedingly strong, and it will overcome all the issues that have been raised by the regulator. I do not see these issues as unresolvable. There is already work going on at that front and it will certainly be a priority that if there are pending issues with the regulator they get sorted out.
NSE has always maintained it wouldn’t list till the issue of unfair access is resolved. Would that be your strategy, too, when you join NSE?
I cannot comment on that because it depends on the nature of issues that remain unresolved. If there are material issues that need to be resolved, they would certainly be taken into consideration in the listing timeline vis-à-vis when the issues get resolved.
How are you looking at the exchange dynamics when bourses are listing?
An exchange has a dual role—business aspect and governance, compliance regulatory role of not just the companies but also of the ecosystem. Even after the exchange lists, both the roles have to be managed effectively.