In a surprise move, Chitra Ramkrishna today quit as Managing Director and CEO of the National Stock Exchange with immediate effect presumably over differences with some board members, after having served the premier bourse for over two decades since its inception.
While the exchange cited "personal reasons" for her departure, sources said the exchange veteran decided to leave -- months ahead of its proposed IPO -- following differences with some board members.
Senior executive J Ravichandran has been given the interim charge till the NSE board, headed by former Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla, finds a full-time replacement for Ramkrishna, who rose through the ranks to head the exchange and was part of the team that set up NSE in 1992.
The exit of 52-year-old Ramkrishna, one of the few women executives heading a leading exchange globally, also comes at a time when NSE has been in focus over a new regulatory framework for high frequency trades and co-location facilities, which some believe give undue advantage to some brokers and traders.
Her tenure was scheduled to end in March 2018. She took charge as Managing Director and CEO in April 2013 when she succeeded Ravi Narain, who was also part of the first leadership team of the exchange.
Currently, Narain is the Vice Chairman of NSE.
Sources said Ramkrishna decided to leave with immediate effect despite requests by the NSE board to stay on for some more time for transition.
Sebi is keeping a close watch on the developments at the NSE, sources said. The bourse would require the regulator's approval for top level appointments.
NSE's initial public offer is being keenly awaited in the market as one of the biggest IPOs in recent times. Rival BSE is also in the process of launching its initial share sale.
For going public, NSE has been pitching for self-listing or oversight by an independent entity and not a rival exchange in case of cross-listing. Besides, NSE also proposed overseas listing of its shares.
In a release, NSE said its board of directors has accepted the resignation of Ramkrishna.
She "tendered her resignation due to personal reasons and expressed her desire to step down with immediate effect. The board, while accepting her request, appreciated her sterling contribution to the growth of the organisation over the long years that she had been associated with it," the release said.
NSE said the board has also decided to immediately start the process for selection of a new Managing Director and CEO and has set up a selection committee for this purpose.
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"The board of NSE has appointed J Ravichandran, Group President, to hold charge of the office of CEO with immediate effect.
"Ravichandran has been associated with NSE for long years and brings with him a wealth of experience and full understanding of the functioning of the organisation," the release said.
Only last month, Ramkrishna was named Chairperson of the board of World Federation of Exchanges (WFE), a global body of more than 200 market infrastructure providers, including exchanges.
She is only the third person to head the bourse in its entire history of about two decades and was also part of the team that drafted the legislative framework for the securities market regulator Sebi in 1987.
Ramkrishna has handled various operational and strategic aspects of NSE for many years during her roles as Deputy and Joint Managing Director.
She has often been named among the top women business leaders from the country in various rankings.
There are not many women leaders heading a large exchange across the world and the stock market trading business has long been considered a male-dominated area.
As per data from WFE, NSE is among the top bourses in the world in terms of equity trades and also market capitalisation.
Ashok Chawla and Ravi Narain are the Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively of NSE.
Other members include General Atlantic LLC's Advisory Director Abhay Havaldar, Dhruva Advisors LLP's CEO Dinesh Kanabar, SBI Global Securities Services' CFO Anshula Kant, former Corporate Affairs Ministry Secretary Naved Masood and Manipal Global Education Services Chairman T V Mohandas Pai.
Azim Premji Investment's Chief Investment Officer Prakash Parthasarathy, advocate Dharmishta Raval and LIC Housing Finance CEO Sunita Sharma are also part of the board.
In the three months ended September 2016, the exchange reported a net profit of Rs 389.40 crore while total income from operations stood at Rs 440.01 crore during the same period.
NSE had a net profit of Rs 446.53 crore in the financial year ended March 31, 2016, as per details available on the exchange's website.