History is made as Indian breaks the Footsie barrier

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Standard Chartered, the bank which embodies the British Empire, is to get its first non-Anglo Saxon head. Indian-born Rana Talwar, also becomes the first Asian to lead a company in the FTSE 100 list of the UK's biggest companies.

The 50-year-old career banker, born and brought up in Dehli, has spent most of his life with Citibank, an American international bank. He takes over next February when the current chief executive, Malcolm Williamson, retires.

Mr Talwar said that to be the bank's first Asian head was "very pleasing'' adding: "It also increases enormously my own sense of responsibility, to succeed in this new job."

Standard Chartered has offices wherever the map was once painted Imperial red, and is particularly strong in the Far East and Africa. As such, it has recently been hit by the Asian financial crisis, but Mr Talwar is determined to continue the bank's expansion. He is also keen to continue the bank's policy, introduced over the last 10 years, of "decolonialising" its structure by replacing British management with local recruits.

"We are absolutely committed to this programme [of recruiting local people]. Over 80 per cent of our business is outside the US and UK, and more senior and middle management should come from these other areas," Mr Talwar said yesterday.