UK Sinha assumes office as 8th Sebi chairman

Mumbai: Upendra Kumar Sinha assumed the office as the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board on Friday from the outgoing chairman Chandrashekar Baskar Bhave, who had considerably raised the bar of the authority of the institution during his three-year tenure.

As the eighth chairman of the market`s watchdog, UK, as he is known among his friends, has a tough task cut out for him, since his predecessor had placed the institution highly above suspicion and had also shown the real powers of the Sebi to one and all-especially the mighty.

During his tenure, Bhave had ensured that every stakeholder in the marketplace, especially the retail investors, is rightly heard and not just the mighty brokers and the mightier corporates.

That Bhave was not amenable to be taken lightly was clear from the way he went about taking on the mighty Ambanis, Sahara group and Financial Technologies, to name a few. And arguably this would remain Bhave`s most singular contribution as the head of the market regulator.

Before being selected to head the Sebi, Sinha was the chairman and managing director of UTI Mutual Fund, and prior to this, a joint secretary in North Bloc (June 2002-October 20052).

Since Bhave has been an ardent advocate of maintaining regulatory autonomy, and has been successful in maintaining its turf during his tenure, this would be another key test for Sinha. Hopefully, the persuasive skills of this 1976 batch IAS officer from the Bihar cadre will come to his aid as while dealing with the government at a time when the government is seriously planning to clip the financial autonomy of various regulators by forcing them to keep the funds with the Consolidated Fund of India.

Last but not the least, Sinha will also have a tough time dealing with the bleeding mutual fund houses, as Sebi under Bhave had no sympathies for them in correcting the fund managers.

The fund houses will obviously have high expectations from this man, who till yesterday was part of their fraternity. And this will arguably be the biggest litmus test for Sinha from the view of market participants.

Another task for Sinha will be building a team of his own as two senior most Sebi leaders – the whole-time director KM Abraham, who assisted Bhave in several high-profile cases, including Sahara and MCX-SX, and the executive director KN Vaidyanathan, who led the regulator`s crusade against mutual funds. While Abraham will be completing his term in July, Vaidyanathan`s tenure will be over next year.