Ajay Srinivasan has been appointed CEO of financial services and director of corporate strategy and business development for the Aditya Birla Group in India. He was hired by Kumar Mangalam Birla, group chairman. It is a new role that incorporates work previously done by two executives in charge of both financial services as well as corporate strategy and planning.

Srinivasan begins the new Mumbai-based role on 16 July after a nine-year career at Prudential Asset Management, joining its India joint venture with local insurer ICICI in 1998. In 2001 he was promoted to lead Prudential AMÆs Asia-Pacific business which rose from under $2 billion to $58 billion under his tenure.

Aditya Birla Group is one of IndiaÆs leading multinational corporations with a market capitalisation of $23 billion and 100,000 employees, with over 50% of revenues from operations outside India. Its manufacturing and sector services span 20 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Brazil, Egypt, China, Korea and Southeast Asia.

Its business lines include life insurance, asset management, distribution of financial products, corporate finance and retail finance, among others. It also operates in sectors including viscose staple fibre, metals, cement, viscose filament yarn, branded apparel, carbon black, chemicals, fertilizers, insulators, telecom and BPO & IT services.

Srinivasan says Birla wants to aggressively build its current platform for financial services to become a leader, not just in India. His job will be to set a strategic direction and vision, as well as provide operational leadership for the groupÆs financial services businesses, sitting on each unitÆs board as well as on the board of Aditya Birla Management Corporation.

His goal is to drive business strategies that have a long-term focus in terms of profitability and value creation for the group. This includes advising and supporting emerging businesses up to the project stage, and to support existing businesses in terms of their investment plans, strategic alliances, business process reengineering, planning and M&A.

"The financial services mandate is to build an integrated financial services conglomerate of significant size and value, initially operating in India but in time elsewhere in Asia," Srinivasan says. "It is my strong belief that there is a gap in the market in terms of such an integrated entity. The Birla group has a strong brand in all parts of India - and in many countries abroad - and has a great platform to build on."

His initial focus will be to build this integrated platform domestically but the medium-term vision is to extend this beyond India's borders. Srinivasan says he and the group have plenty of ideas about new sectors or markets to enter. "I would rather comment on these once I have my feet under the table," he says.