Goldman's Marcus chief could bolt for bank CEO job in India

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Harit Talwar, the head of Goldman Sachs' consumer banking business, is in the running for one of India's top banking jobs.

HDFC Bank, India's largest private-sector lender, has held talks with Talwar for the chief executive role, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The bank has been looking for a new leader to replace Aditya Puri, one of the longest-serving banking CEOs in India, whose term ends in October.

The Mumbai-based lender has a market capitalization of about $86 billion, giving it a bigger standing than major U.S. banks including Goldman and Morgan Stanley. Representatives for HDFC Bank and Goldman declined to comment.

A customer exits an HDFC Bank branch in India.

Talwar joined Goldman in 2015 and was the face of its push into consumer banking. The Wall Street giant had eschewed business with Main Street for most of its more than 150 years in existence. That has changed as it seeks new business lines to help boost growth.

While Goldman's Marcus division is still small, the bank has pinned hopes for growth in the future on its consumer business while relying less and less on trading and investment banking.

Before joining Goldman, Talwar led the U.S. cards division for Discover Financial Services. He also spent 15 years at Citigroup Inc., with roles tied to cards, loans and retail banking. That included at least two previous stints working in India.

HDFC Bank has had a panel in place to find a successor to Puri, who has said his replacement should be better than him and shouldn't require 18 months of hand-holding for the job. The bank has largely skirted the crisis in India's shadow lending sector that fueled bad loans and weighed on the fortunes of some of its peers. However, it's vulnerable to weakening consumer demand as the nation's economic growth slows.

Puri, 69, has led HDFC Bank since 1994, when it was incorporated in Mumbai. It is India's largest private-sector bank both by assets and market value, and has more than 5,000 branches across almost 2,800 cities. The lender's profit rose 33% to 74.2 billion rupees ($1 billion) in the three months ended Dec. 31.

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