Sudipto Bhattacharya Memorial Event


On 30th November 2012, friends, family and colleagues gathered in LSE’s Shaw Library to commemorate the work and contribution of the late Professor Sudipto Bhattacharya (1951 – 2012). David Webb, Head of the Department of Finance, welcomed guests and opened the event by stating that Sudipto was a unique figure and the loss of him would be felt everywhere, in seminars, at dinner tables, and the shared corridor outside his office.

The memorial began with a series of presentations by Sudipto’s co-authors and colleagues. First to speak was Anjan Thakor (University of Washington St. Louis) who discussed Sudipto’s important contribution in Signalling models in Finance. He noted that Sudipto’s early work in Dividend Signalling theory had sparked off a vast theoretical and empirical literature on the role of dividends. Anjan also remarked on his early encounters and later co-author experience with Sudipto (two survey papers and a book on banking), in particular highlighting that he had benefited a great deal from his comprehensive knowledge of the literature and his overall intellectual generosity.

Kjell Nyborg (University of Zurich) presented his recent joint-work with Sudipto, “Bank Bailout Menus”, which studied the optimal design of menu of bailout package, specifically “equity injection” and “asset buyout”, for the official authority to refinance banks and resolve their debt overhang problem during a crisis. At the start of the presentation, Kjell spent several minutes describing Sudipto as a caring and close friend, reflecting on the times Sudipto had spent with Kjell’s family. He told how Sudipto’s death was greatly felt by him and his family.

Daniel Ferreira (LSE Finance) followed with a discussion of Sudipto’s contribution in Organizational Economics, with a specific reference to his two papers on the optimal design of a mechanism to simultaneously induce ex-ante productive informational sharing and ex-post effort in conducting R&D for researchers in a team. He used the paper as an example of how it could sometimes be challenging to work alongside Sudipto as his extraordinary talent and knowledge meant that you always had to be working at your very best.

Finally, Giovanna Nicodano (University of Torino) discussed how Sudipto had collaborated with her and  various Italian economists to help foster the, back then, two relatively young Economics and Finance research centres in Italy. She recounted some of the experiences and secrets to working with Sudipto and was deeply impressed with his brilliance, intellectual integrity and generosity, and sometimes idiosyncrasies.

The presentations were followed by personal tributes from Sudipto’s friends, family, and colleagues. Sudipto’s high school classmate and cousin first commented on the early days when he was in India as a bright student, great friend, and loving family member. Ron Anderson (LSE Finance), Xavier Vives (IESE), and Rafael Repullo (CEMFI) continued to describe Sudipto as a colleague and friend when he visited various institutions in Europe in the 90s and made specific reference to both his encyclopaedic knowledge and uncompromising attitude towards research; Georgy Chabakauri (LSE Finance), Christopher Hennessy (LBS), Oliver Hart (Harvard), Jean-Charles Rochet (Toulouse), and Denis Gromb (INSEAD) told entertaining personal stories about Sudipto outside academia, including Sudipto’s views on Russian politics, real estate, prediction of Nobel Prize winners, tennis and football, and café discussions which often transformed into lectures on everything wide range of topic. The tributes concluded with David Webb reading out numerous tributes received by email from academics all around the world that were further testaments to how unique and unforgettable Sudipto was as a colleague and friend.

David Webb concluded with a review of Sudipto’s significant contributions to the Department of Finance. Sudipto has played an instrumental role in various aspects of the department such as establishing the MSc Finance and Economics program, enhancing intellectual life and influence of the department, and building it into a modern finance department. Finally, he commented on Sudipto’s eccentricity, personal charm and unorthodox humour and stated that they would be greatly missed.

The memorial ended with a dinner. Sugato Bhattacharya, Sudipto’s brother, delivered a speech about the environment he and Sudipto grew up in and his memories of his brother. Sugato thanked all the guests for being part of this event, particularly the speakers and those who gave tributes for sharing their memories of his brother. He concluded that Sudipto would have been happy to know that he was so widely respected and loved.