Money is an outcome of successful entrepreneurship rather than a goal, Uday Kotak believes. Despite his family's cotton export business, Kotak launched Kotak Mahindra Finance in 1985, backed by a small loan from family and close friends, including Mahindra group chairman Anand Mahindra. It went on to become the first NBFC to receive a banking licence from the Reserve Bank of India in 2003, leading to the launch of Kotak Mahindra Bank.
Asia's richest banker with a net worth of ₹1,07,355 crore prefers to remain low-key, makes an appearance whenever necessary, and is actively involved in CII-related events, financial and business associations. Mostly visible in dark suits and ties, the 63-year-old is a vegetarian, with a passion for music and art by Indian masters, including M.F. Husain and Paresh Maity. Kotak and his family owns the Champagne house in Mumbai's Worli. He reportedly bought the bungalow for ₹385 crore in 2018.
Kotak is synonymous with deal-making and is recognised as one of the three 'KKKs' that dominated India's investment banking scene, the other two being Nimesh Kampani of JM Financial and Hemendra Kothari of DSP.
So, what differentiates Uday Kotak from the rest? He has managed to stay the course and has not diverged unlike some others. "Few other first-generation entrepreneurs have the legacy Uday Kotak has created in just a few decades. Consistency and respect are the first synonyms that come to mind when one thinks of him," says Nikhil Kamath, co-founder, Zerodha and True Beacon.
The country's third-largest private sector bank has a market cap of $46 billion (as on August 16, 2022) and Goldman Sachs expects it to cross $100 billion in the next five years.
At an individual level, Kotak is seen as an astute but cautious operator who is both trusted and regarded by the private industry and the state alike. When IL&FS went bust as a result of financial misappropriation, Kotak was ushered in as non-executive chairman to help bring it back to its feet. He exited earlier this year after piloting its debt resolution scheme.
He had once said, "In a marathon, if you run too fast, you get exhausted. If you run too slow, you never make it." Uday Kotak is running a marathon and a lot of ground is still left to be covered.