MUMBAI: The government on Monday cleared the elevation of Arundhati Bhattacharya as the chairperson of the State Bank of IndiaBSE 1.61 % - the first woman chief of the country's largest lender - succeeding Pratip Chaudhuri who retired on September 30.
Bhattacharya, 57, is the bank's 24th chairperson and has a two and a two-and-a-half-year term at the top. Recently, the government had promoted her to the post of managing director and chief financial officerof the bank. She was among the four contenders who were interviewed for the top job. The others were SBIBSE 1.61 % MDs - Hemant Contractor, A Krishna Kumar and S Viswanathan. Her biggest challenge will be to cut the share of bad loans which is little over 5% of the total loan book. Also, she will have to identify an associate bank to merge with SBI.
Former chief Chaudhuri had said he would prefer the management to decide on the merger of associate banks.
Bhattacharya joined SBI in 1977 as a probationary officer and during her career of 36 years, she has worked across the banking spectrum: from chief general manager in charge of Bangalore circle to CGM in charge of new businesses. She became the deputy MD of SBI Capital Markets, the bank's investment banking arm.
She also had a stint with SBI's New York office where she was in charge of branch performance, external audit and correspondent relations.