K V Kamath
ICICI Bank CEO Kundapur Vaman Kamath's association with the Ambani family dates back to the 1970s. As a young officer in ICICI just after he started his career, one of the first companies that he dealt with was Reliance. Its turnover? Rs 3 crore (Rs 30 million).
Reliance used to approach ICICI once in three months for funding. No wonder, when the family feud broke out, the Ambani matriarch Kokilaben reached out to family friend Kamath to play the role of an arbitrator. The final agreement that took place on Saturday, is based on Kamath's settlement formula of 40:30:30.
Even Finance Minister P Chidambaram acknowledged his role when he said: "I am very happy that the two brothers, Anil and Mukesh, have settled their differences amicably. I think their mother helped them to a great extent, so did Kamath of ICICI."
Ever since the family spat became public, Kamath avoided the media. He even stopped attending public functions as he was not willing to comment on the RIL saga. His logic was simple. He was handling this project as a family friend and not as the ICICI Bank boss.
He described his role as being one of getting people to communicate. "Both (brothers) certainly talk to me and I talk to them and that process continues," he said in a television interview.
"We lost count of how many meetings he held over the last six months at his office and Sea Wind, the Ambani residence. Some of the meetings lasted for hours and ran into midnight. But he never lost hope of a settlement. One of the brothers was a bit cynical in the beginning but he had to give in to Kamath's persuasive skills," according to an ICICI Bank insider.
While Kamath was keen to ensure that the settlement would not be at a high cost, he admitted that there have always been issues of 'ownership concerns' in family run businesses.
To his credit, the arbitrator only lurked in the background. Even after the settlement was formally announced, he shunned the media.
ICICI Bank CEO K V Kamath. rediff.com file photogarph
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