An Axis Bank cashier works at a makeshift ATM counter near Ahmedabad. Photo: AFP

Axis Bank, India’s third-largest privately owned lender, is close to picking a successor to its current CEO Shikha Sharma.

Earlier this year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) – the country’s banking regulator – reportedly balked at Sharma’s term being extended for a fourth time.

A team searching for a new boss at Axis is understood to be considering P.S. Jayakumar, chief executive of state-owned Bank of Baroda (BoB), Times of India has reported. Jayakumar is a former Citibank employee and his term at BoB comes to an end this year.

The Axis Bank board’s appointment committee has to come up with a candidate by September. Within the bank, deputy managing director V Srinivasan and executive director Rajiv Anand are also potential candidates.

In April, the Reserve Bank refused to approve the Axis Bank board’s proposal to grant Sharma a fourth three-year term. She then offered to stay on until December to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership.

The regulator was reportedly concerned over rising bad loans at the bank. In the last three years non-performing assets of Axis Bank rose by more than 300%. The gross NPA ratio, which was 1.2% in December 2010, is now about 5.3%.

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