Ravi Kapoor: Citi's equity banker whose retirement is a moment to cherish and celebrate

Fellow award-winning investment banker recounts memories of the man under whose leadership Citi remained at the top

Updated: Oct 18, 2023 09:50:13 AM UTC
Ravi Kapoor of Citi. Image: Moneycontrol

After a 35-year career spanning 600 deals worth a cumulative $500 billion, Ravi Kapoor retired from banking in September 2023. His last title at Citi was head of banking, capital markets, and advisory for South Asia and India. While titles came and went, what really remains etched in my memory is how he and the Citi team dominated the world of ECM (equity capital market).

For an ECM banker like me, who is still a student of the game, Kapoor’s retirement is indeed a moment to cherish and celebrate.

As I grew up in the sharp-elbows world of investment banking from the early 2000s, I have had the privilege of watching the Citi franchise grow from a newbie to a formidable player to an undisputed badshah of India ECM. No matter how you cut the ECM league table cookie, no matter what year or block of years you take, Citi, under Kapoor’s leadership was on the top. Kapoor set a string of records which will remain untouched for a while. No wonder Citi topped ECM league tables in India consistently for 12 years, according to Dealogic.

In the world of equity, we all thought we were Kapoor’s competitors. But he had a very different definition of the word ‘equity’. However, it was often such 'inequity' that Citi's number 1 market share equalled the combined market share of those ranked a few rungs below it.

All banks crow about their league table ranks, but Kapoor had a different level of benchmark in mind. True to his penchant for inequity, he didn’t just aspire to top the business vertical—his ambition was to own the business vertical. He made one product synonymous with Citi—block deals. Citi and Kapoor were years ahead in the high-risk, high-return business of blocks when other banks were still deciding on business strategies. There was a time when every notable block deal was Citi-led. Dealogic data shows that Citi dominated this domain in 2008-2011, in 2014, and from 2015-2017.

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While I never got to work at Citi, as a banker at least a few levels junior to him, I learned a lot just by being with Kapoor on the same deals. And I am not alone in saying that his drive for excellence had an effect on many ambitious bankers like me. It's like at the gym when you are on your treadmill, and someone joins next to you and increases the speed, and boom, you too instinctively push up your tempo.

I think careers that up the game for not just your team or your firm but the larger industry, are truly remarkable. In the wider world of investment banking, Kapoor took the game of excellence to a whole new level. This is a moment of celebration for bankers and the banking industry.

Based in Princeton, Mangesh Ghogre is an award-winning investment banker with 20 years of experience in global equity capital markets. He recently moved to the US from Mumbai after he was granted the prestigious Einstein Visa (US Green Card) for his extraordinary skills in making crosswords for NYT. He currently advises IPO-bound companies and publishes mini crosswords. mangeshghogre@yahoo.com

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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