Religare Enterprises today said it has inducted two global financial sector experts into its board as independent directors, a move which seems attuned to its ambition to venture into the banking business.

The financial services firm inducted Stuart Pearce and Kathryn Matthews to its board on Tuesday, shortly after its promoters — Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh — decided to step down from the board of Religare Enterprises (REL).

Though REL declined to comment on its aspiration of becoming a bank, the hand-over of the management reins by the Singh brothers to professionals and appointment of independent directors are being seen as steps towards meeting the Reserve Bank’s norms.

The RBI’s new bank licencing norms are likely to benefit pure NBFCs and global financial services firms like Goldman Sachs, but would restrict industrial groups wanting to convert their NBFCs to banks, as they have exposure to economic cycles.

The exit of the brother-promoters was followed by the appointment of erstwhile CEO Sunil Godhwani as the new CMD.

The move also saw the appointment of Group CEO Shachindra Nath and Group CFO Anil Saxena to the board.

Pearce joins REL from Qatar Financial Centre Authority, where he was the CEO and Director-General for over five years.

He has over 35 years of experience in the financial services domain, of which 15 years was with HSBC.

Matthews, with three decades of experience, has led asset management firms such as Axa Investment Managers and William M Mercer. In 2003, she joined Fidelity as the head of global equities and portfolio strategies and later moved to Asia.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in his Budget speech in February, had said there is a need to extend the geographic coverage of banks and improve access to banking services.

“RBI is considering giving some additional banking licenses to private sector players. Non-Banking Financial Companies could also be considered, if they meet the RBI’s eligibility criteria,” Mukherjee had said.

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