Mumbai: British banking major HSBC today said its head of strategy for the Asia-Pacific region, Jayant Rikhye, will be taking over as the India chief executive from the incumbent Stuart Milne.

Milne served as the country head for five years, during which the bank took decisions like nearly halving its retail branch presence and also exited several businesses like private banking and retail broking, leading to some job losses. In 2016, India was the third biggest contributor to the group's profits. Rikhye joined the bank in 1989, in the India operations itself, and his last assignment also included being head of international for Asia-Pacific.

"Jayant brings with him a vast experience of leading international banking operations in Asia. I am confident he will be able to take the bank's India operations to the next level of development," said HSBC deputy chairman and chief executive Peter Wong in a statement. Rikhye will take over the new role on December 1.

Milne is going on a sabbatical for three months and his new role will be announced later, the bank said. The bank said India has the second largest workforce for it globally. The country has also been supporting the group's "ten point strategic agenda" outlined in 2015, becoming one of the top contributors to group profits, it added.

The bank said in India, it is focused on driving digital technology and the next phase of growth will come from greater digital synergy and cross-border activity.