Lulu Group agrees to buy 4.99% stake in CSB; bank gets new MD

Lulu Group

The Bangkok-based NRI businessman Chanrichawla has got many extensions from the RBI since 2010 to trim his stake. The current deadline to do so is March 31.

Though many times he could identify an investor in the past, the NRI failed to satisfy RBI with the prospective buyer. Still over the years, Chanrichawla has trimmed his stake to 18 per cent now from a high 34 per cent initially.

Santhanakrishnan described the Thrissur-born owner of the LuLu Group as a "good investor". Moreover, the CSB Chairman said, "Yusuffali is not interested in running the bank, which is a major plus point for the deal to secure the RBI mandate."

On whether Yusaffali's coming on board has the board approval and the blessings of the Church, he said "the board is backing Yusuffali, while the Church is fully supporting the move."

"The Archdiocese of Thrissur is only happy to let the Lulu Group Chairman pick the stake and help the bank grow," Santhanakrishnan said, adding his 'son of the soil' credential also helped get the Church back him.

While the Church does not have any direct holding in the bank, it has a say in the affairs of the lender, which had been initially promoted by the members of the Church.

The Church had in 2010 blocked attempts of Federal Bank, the largest private bank in Kerala, to take over CSB citing loss of the original identity of the bank promoted by Syrian Catholics from the region. Following this Federal had exited its 4.99 per cent stake in the bank.

The LuLu Group is reportedly building India's largest retail chain in Kochi. The Group is the largest retailer in Dubai and figures amongst the top 10 retail chains globally.

Yusuffali, who moved to the Gulf in the mid-70s, heads the USD 5.5-billion LuLu Group as Managing Director and owns the eponymous hypermarket chain in West Asia.

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