Axis Bank, India’s third largest private sector bank by assets, is warning its customers against the risks posed by the country’s slowing economic growth. In a recent statement, the bank’s CEO Amitabh Chaudhry said that he was “watchful” of consumer demand and cautioned that growth forecasts might need to be adjusted accordingly.
Chaudhry’s remarks came as India’s economy saw a 4.4% growth in the final quarter of 2022, and with inflation running above the Reserve Bank of India’s tolerance band of 4 to 6%, there is likely to be further hikes to ingertest rates. Despite this, the Axis Bank chief executive praised India’s central bank and government for being on top of the game.
The current climate has made it more difficult for Indian banks to compete for deposits and lends, with Chaudhry describing the situation as a “rugby game” between lenders. Axis Bank has recently taken over Citibank’s India consumer business, an Rs116bn ($1.4bn) deal that expands the bank’s wealth management and credit card businesses as well as acquiring Rs399bn of deposits.
The bank has also had to work to rebuild its reputation following a front-running trading scandal related to its Mutual Fund. Working in the direction of correcting its mistakes, the bank has now on-boarded Credit Suisse veteran Ashish Gupta as its chief investment officer.
Chaudhry noted that while growth was still generally ok and the government was spending a lot of money, he would like to stay vigilant. He also expressed his confidence in the stability of the Indian banking system following collapses at US and European banks, saying that India is unlikely to see any major impact.
Talking about the Adani Group, an Indian conglomerate that was hit by a short-seller report, Chaudhry said he was content with the bank’s level of exposure to the conglomerate. Reportedly, the bank’s loans to the company accounted for 0.9 per cent.
Despite the current slow-down, India has remained a very attractive market for global companies looking to expand, Chaudhry said. He added that the country was still the world’s fastest-growing major economy and is attractive for potential growth.
Axis Bank was founded in 1994, and is one of the most preferred financial and banking service providers in India. Listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange of India, the bank offers its services through 2,850 branches, 14,308 ATMs, and 3,092 cash recyclers distributed across 1,995 cities.
Amitabh Chaudhry is the current chief executive officer of Axis Bank. He joined the organization in April 2020, with an extensive three-decade track record in banking and finance. Prior to this, he was the Managing Director of HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company and has previously held the role of Managing Director and CEO at ICICI Prudential Life Insurance. He has also held various leadership roles at ABN AMRO Bank.