After a delay, the finance ministry conducted the interviews of ten candidates on Thursday to select the new chairman and managing directors of three public general insurance firms — New India Assurance (NIA). National Insurance Company (NIC) and United India Insurance (UII).
The search for CMDs is an indication that the merger of these insurers (NIA, UII and Oriental Insurance) is unlikely to happen in the current financial year.
While the post of CMD at NIC has fallen vacant as K Sanat Kumar retired in April, both the posts at UII and NIA will fall vacant when MN Sarma and G Srinivasan retire in May-end and July-end, respectively.
The MOF short-listed 10 names: Hemant G Rokade, general manager & director, NIA, three senior most GMs of Delhi-based Agriculture Insurance Company (AIC) — Malay K Poddar, Rajeev Chaudhry, Avinanda Ghosh — Dinesh Waghela, GM of GIC Re, Siddharth Pradhan, GM of NIA, Girish Radhakrishnan, GM of NIA, Atul Sahai,GM of Oriental Insurance Company (OIC), Tajinder Mukherjee, GM of NIA and SN Rajeswari, GM of NIA.
Pradhan will be interviewed for the posts of CMD at NIC and UII while rest of the candidates will be considered for all the three posts. Pradhan qualifies for the interview of only two CMD posts as he is falling short of mandatory condition of “two years of residual services” when the vacancy of CMD at NIA will happen.
The MoF’s move to fill up the posts of CMDs at NIC and UII, two of the merging companies out of the three — third being the Oriental Insurance Company — to create a new general insurance behemoth has once again the kept the industry guessing about the deadline for the mega merger that is supposed to be completed by the year end.
AV Girija Kumar, the current CMD of OIC, who will be retiring in July 2020, will most probably be heading the merged firm. All the candidates who will be appearing for the interview, has residual services of more than two years and if the merger of the three companies happens within the time-frame that the government indicated, the new CMDs of NIC and UII have to be given new postings after the merger.
In fact, Debasish Panda, additional secretary, Insurance, MoF, in his last meeting with the three CMDs of merging companies on April 23, had said that the government was keen to complete the merger by November 2018.
Earlier, the MoF had promoted 16 senior officials of the PSU general insurers as general managers, a fairly large number, considering the fact that three of the firms were expected to merge soon and the merged entity may not need such a large number of GMs. Several of the GMs have residual services of more than two years.
Meanwhile, John Pulinthanam, Director and GM and BN Narsimhan, Director and GM, NIC, have been jointly asked to discharge the responsibility of CMD of NIC for three months.
The next round top level vacancies in the industry will now happen in 2019 when Alice Vaidyan, CMD, GIC Re, PJ Joseph, member, IRDAI retire in July 2019 and January 2019, repectively. However, state-run Life Insurance Corporation(LIC) will see a series of retirements from September onwards including Usha Sangwan, MD, LIC, who will be retiring in September 2018 and VK Sharma, chairman, retiring in December 2018 and other three existing MDs following them.
There are six senior officials of the corporation, having more than two years of residual services, who will be competing for the top posts of the life insurance behemoth. They include Ganesh Kumar (October 2020), Bipin Anand (July 2021), T Sushil Kumar, Mukesh Gupta (September 2020) and Raj Kumar (2022). The person, who will be succeeding Sangwan, stands a fair chance of becoming the chairman of LIC when Sharma demits office in December, source said.