The rivalry between the country's largest and second largest private sector bank has become bitter. Stung by the comments of Mandeep Maitra, HDFC Bank's human resources head, published in the latest issue of a business magazine, ICICI Bank has shot off a legal notice to her seeking an unconditional apology.
Maitra has been quoted in the article as saying that HDFC Bank was wary of recruiting people from ICICI Bank as she did not want the ICICI culture to seep into the bank she works for. Maitra also reportedly told the magazine that she had been receiving a flood of applications from ICICI Bank staffers, but had to be careful in recruiting them.
A senior ICICI Bank official said the legal notice was not on HDFC bank but on the official concerned. "She just stepped out of line by making such disparaging remarks against us. We have put her on notice," the official said, insisting that ICICI Bank had the highest respect for HDFC Bank's MD Aditya Puri and believed the remarks made by the HR head didn't had the MD's approval.
The official, however, said ICICI Bank might not sue the HR head even if she didn't tender an apology for her "intemperate" remarks. "Our purpose has been served by putting her on notice. It was unprofessional of her to have made such a comment and we believe it didn't have the sanction of her bosses ," he said.
The two banks have been involved in a war in the marketplace, with each trying to outdo the other in terms of number of branches.
At the same time, HDFC Bank said that Maitra was quoted out of context and it has already written to the magazine. It also called it unfortunate that the comments had hurt ICICI Bank.
"It's a quote out of context. We have already written to the publication. It's unfortunate that the story has ended up hurting someone. That was never our intention," an HDFC Bank spokesperson said.