October 12th, 2009
04:13 AM GMT
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The first thing that took me by surprise about my interview with Madhu Kannan, the CEO of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) was the timing of our chat. “Can you be here by 8.25 am?” he asked. Sure, I replied and cameraman, Sanjiv, and I reached his plush office right on time.


It had taken around 3 months and an endless number of emails and phone calls to the BSE’s press office to confirm a date and time for our interview. It was frustrating to keep chasing them – I put it down to Indian bureaucracy and poor time management, unfortunately still typical of many large Indian companies.

“That’s one thing I am trying to change,” said Kannan when we interviewed him. “I want to start meetings on time and change the culture so no one’s late for meetings.”

It’s just one of the many, many challenges Kannan has ahead of him.

His big task: To revamp the BSE and make it relevant again.

At 37, he’s the youngest CEO of Asia’s oldest stock exchange. It’s an exchange that needs help.

While it had a virtual monopoly over stock trading in India, the entry of a rival exchange – the National Stock Exchange in the early 1990’s – changed that. The BSE now handles only a fraction of all trading done in India. To compete more efficiently, it needs to invest in better technology, says Kannan, who also has plans to make the BSE a one-stop shop for investors looking to trade across multiple platforms.

Sure, Kannan may get the BSE back on its feet. However, the real challenge for any stock exchange in India – be it the BSE or the NSE  – is to get more people to invest in stocks. Only a tiny fraction –two percent of India’s billion strong population – dabbles in the share market. Those in rural areas still prefer to invest in tangible assets like gold.

Even if Kannan is able to win back customers who’ve switched to the NSE, convincing newcomers to try their hand at trading shares, say observers, could be key to the BSE’s success. Given the robust year the Indian stock market has had, it could well attract a bunch of new investors.

Kannan has already started the process of repositioning the BSE. He’s in the process of buying a technology firm, has cut transaction fees, and – oh yes – he starts all his meetings on time.

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Filed under: AsiaBiz ClinicIndiaInvestment

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. M Narayana Bhat

    Bombay Stock Exchange(BSE)is introducing revolutionary facilities for the invesing public,giving full and telescopic views on daily basis.I wish the new CEO success in his future policies.

    October 13, 2009 at 5:17 am |
  2. Anup Dey

    why an improvement has to be revolutionary, instead of just better. I think indians are still stuck with marxist jargons.

    October 13, 2009 at 7:55 am |
  3. abhinit Khanna

    excellent reporting. need more content from Bombay, please.

    October 29, 2009 at 7:04 am |
  4. smartbrains

    The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) has a dedicated Listing Department to grant approval for listing of securities of companies in accordance with the provisions of the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956, Securities Contracts (Regulation) Rules, 1957, Companies Act, 1956, Guidelines issued by SEBI and Rules, Bye-laws and Regulations of BSE

    June 24, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  5. Ravi Shanker

    The last sentence was not needed

    January 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm |

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