INVESTMENT banker Jitesh Gadhia said strengthening the future of Britain’s financial services and the UK’s ties with India will be a focus for him when he enters the House of Lords.
Kampala-born Gadhia was honoured with a peerage as part of David Cameron’s resignation honours list announced last Thursday (4).
He told Eastern Eye: “It’s a huge privilege and responsibility to be nominated by David Cameron to join the Lords. A peerage is a job, not an honour.
“I will be joining parliament at a defining moment in British history as we grapple with the new realities post Brexit. We stand at a crossroads for the UK and its future relationship with the rest of the world.”
Outlining his priorities, Gadhia said his aim would be threefold: “First, to help secure the best possible future for UK financial services which represents over two million jobs, underpins business investment and generates substantial tax revenues that pay for essential public services;
“Second, to help strengthen our international economic links, notably between UK and India;
“And finally, to connect parliament and key decision makers with 1.5 million British Indians, particularly the next generation.”
Gadhia, 46, has been associated with some of the largest investments between the UK and India.
He has been in banking for more than two decades and has advised on mergers and acquisitions and capital raisings across industry sectors.
Gadhia worked with Barings, ABN AMRO and Barclays banks, before joining Blackstone, the world’s largest alternative asset management firm where he was a senior managing director.
He is a member of the board of UK Government Investments Limited and the BGL Group, which owns the UK’s largest financial price comparison website comparethemarket.com and is currently preparing for an IPO on the London stock exchange.
Gadhia’s wide experience in connecting emerging market companies with developed markets, notably from the BRIC countries, will prove useful when he joins the Lords.
He is a member of the UK-India CEO Council, set up during India’s prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to UK in November 2015, and he has accompanied delegations to the Indian subcontinent with Cameron and former Lon don mayor Boris Johnson.
India’s High Commission in London tweeted after Gadhia’s peerage was an nounced: “Glad to see new addition to list of British Indians in House of Lords. Wish you very best Jitesh Gadhia!”
Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Alok Sharma said on Twitter: “Jitesh Gadhia will bring a wealth of business experience to the #Lords – great appointment.”
When Cameron welcomed Modi at Wembley Stadium in London last year, he concluded his speech, said to be written by Gadhia, with the words, “Acche din zaroor ayengey (good days are indeed ahead)”, a reference to what the visiting leader said when he won the general election in India in 2014.
Gadhia also told Eastern Eye he was set to meet Rajesh Agarwal, London’s new deputy mayor for business, this week to discuss how London retains its status as a premier financial hub.
“There are a lot of complex technical issues around ‘passporting’ and ‘equivalence’ of regulatory regimes which will need to be worked through. Above all, the voice of financial and professional services must be properly represented at the Brexit negotiating table,” Gadhia said.
“Beyond access to the single market in services, it is our openness as a city to new people and ideas and preserving the whole ecosystem of specialists skills that will be key to retaining Lon don’s competitive advantage.”
Gadhia’s father Kishorebhai was a prominent figure in the Gujarati community. He left India for Uganda before arriving in the UK in the 1970s.
A Cambridge graduate (he studied economics), Gadhia did his masters in management from London Business School. He told Eastern Eye about early influences on his life.
“I worked closely with the late Ugandan Asian industrialist Manubhai Madhvani, who I admired greatly. He was a unifying figure in our community with a unique skill set for bringing together different people to achieve a common goal. I would certainly like to emulate his inclusive approach.”
Last year, he worked with then chancellor George Osborne to help initiate a review of crematorium facilities in the UK. Gadhia said: “I feel strongly about tackling some of the practical issues facing the British Indian community. That’s why I worked with former chancellor Osborne.
“We should proactively identify other pressing community issues which need to be reviewed and address them systematically.
“The public consultation by the Department of Communities (on crematorium facilities) ended in May and I am looking forward to discussing the conclusions with the new secretary of state, Sajid Javid.”
Gadhia has also been recognised internationally for his expertise – he was selected as a ‘Young Global Leader’ by the World Economic Forum.
Through the Gadhia Foundation, he supports charities in UK and abroad. He lives in Northwood, Middlesex, with his wife Angeli and two children, Priyana and Dev.
Gadhia will be joined in the Lords by civil rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti, whose name was put forward by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
One of the most senior Asian peers, Lord Navnit Dholakia, of the Liberal Democrats, told Eastern Eye: “I welcome both these appointments. We expect them to make positive contributions to the important work of the Lords.”
Economist Lord Meghnad Desai said: “They are well-deserved honourees.”