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Banking

Piyush Gupta: DBS's man on a mission

Piyush Gupta, the CEO of Singapore’s DBS, has grabbed a once in a lifetime opportunity to build the bank’s Asian corporate and investment banking franchise. Gupta has a world view and doesn’t shy away from airing his thoughts on top bankers, China’s $1 trillion NPL headache, the death of cross-border bank M&A and what global banks are getting wrong in Asia

Is DBS’s CEO, Piyush Gupta, the anti-Jamie Dimon? A spat between the CEO of southeast Asia’s largest bank by assets and his US counterpart last October pitted Dimon’s freewheeling Anglo-Saxon model of finance against Gupta’s very Asian style of banking.

At an Institute of International Finance meeting in Washington, Gupta took issue with Dimon’s unapologetic defence of global bulge-bracket firms.

   Piyush Gupta, DBS  

“We have started this narrative that people hate banks…[but] our clients and shareholders are very happy with us,” the CEO of JPMorgan said, despite the regulatory maelstrom after the deposit-guaranteed lender was hit by a flurry of litigation and expenses. “We have a complex global economic ecosystem and banks are following their clients. We’re going to continue serving our clients and serving our country,” Dimon declared.

In an unusual move, however, Gupta took Dimon to task for the comments. He flatly stated: “[Banks receive] a licence to operate not from the government but from civil society at large. Just saying we’re keeping our shareholders and clients happy isn’t good enough.”

The clash is noteworthy because of both its rarity and the stature of the personalities involved: Dimon, the aggressive champion of capitalism’s creative excesses, and Gupta, a 27-year veteran of Citi.


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