Bharti Airtel rejigs top team, Manoj Kohli becomes chief of non-telecom business

The country’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel has shuffled its top deck once again making Gopal Vittal overall boss of India and South Asia while Christian de Faria has been given full operational responsibility of the company’s operations across 17 African geographies.

Simultaneously Manoj Kohli has been made the chairman of the Dutch holding arm of its African operations. Kohli would not have any direct executive role with the telecom business of the group.

Kohli, who was previously chief of African telecom business before being brought back as overall managing director of Bharti Airtel but with responsibility of international operations, has been made managing director of Bharti Enterprises, the private group holding firm of the Mittal family.

He will lead all non-telecom businesses of the group like retail, insurance, food & agri, realty and others and will closely with the respective MDs and CEOs of the respective companies.

The announcement simply formalises the current operational structure for the telecom business as Vittal was already de facto boss of Indian operations. He has been made MD & CEO of India & South Asia while Christian de Faria who came in as CEO of African operations last year has become MD & CEO of Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) B.V. that owns telecom operations in Africa.

As part of the restructuring, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka operations are being brought under South Asia operation which was previously part of non-India business or the overall international operations.

In another recent move, Bharti Infratel Ltd -- the telecom tower arm of Bharti Airtel Ltd – has elevated Devender Singh Rawat as an additional director and managing director from his existing role as CEO while the current managing director and vice-chairman Akhil Gupta has been appointed as executive chairman of the company. The group had also brought in Raj Jain as chief of its retail business.

Moreover, the Bharti Corporate Office will be focused on and deal with matters of governance and accordingly Bharti Enterprises’ chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal and three vice chairmen, Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Rajan Bharti Mittal and Akhil Gupta, along with Kohli and four Bharti veterans will form the Bharti Governance Board (BGB), as per a statement issued by the group on Tuesday.

“The new structure reflects the next phase of Bharti’s growth journey, which will be led by best-in-class professionals in various segments. Bharti has always championed the empowerment of its people and set high standards of corporate governance,” Sunil Bharti Mittal said in the statement.

All the appointment will be effective from April 1, 2014.

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