Bharti Airtel’s India CEO Sanjay Kapoor quitting, 3 other top execs resign

Sanjay Kapoor, the chief executive officer for the Indian business of the country’s top telecom firm Bharti Airtel Ltd, has resigned after serving nearly 14 years at the company. He will hand over the baton to Gopal Vittal, who joined the firm last April as group director- special projects.

Kapoor will continue to play his role until Feb 28 and will also be helping on key matters until March 31. He will also continue his association with the Bharti Group and be on the board of Indus Towers Ltd and Bharti Global Ltd.

“Not only has he provided strong leadership and strategic direction during the toughest macro economic and regulatory environment, but has grown our customer base to 200 million, developed DTH business, driven fixed line and broadband businesses from voice to data, enhanced our footprint in Asia to include Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and retained mobile revenue market share at over 30 per cent,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and MD, Bharti Airtel.

Vittal, who will now head Indian operations, has spent the past year across the Singtel Group in South Asia/Australia, Softbank and Silicon Valley understanding emerging trends in data and internet space. His key focus areas would be enhancing market share and margins along with growth of alternate revenue streams including 3G, Data, Airtel Money and Value Added Services.

He comes in with over 20 years with Hindustan Unilever. In his last stint at HUL, Vittal was instrumental in leading the $3.5 billion Home and Personal Care Division.

Bharti Airtel, which acquired bulk of Zain’s African assets in a multi-billion dollar transaction a few years ago, has two CEOs -- one for international business and one for domestic operations. Its overseas unit is headed by former CEO of Bharti Airtel Ltd, Manoj Kohli.

As part of the management change effective March 1, rest of South Asian operations (excluding India) which was part of India business unit, would be placed under the international operations.

The Economic Times had previously reported that Bharti Airtel was planning to carry out a restructuring by combining its Indian and African operations into a single business entity under a global CEO in the first half of 2013. The report had also added that Kohli, the joint MD of Bharti Airtel and CEO of its African operations, could be the frontrunner to head the combined telecom business of the company.

It had also reported three other key executives have quit Bharti Airtel ahead of a larger restructuring. Shankar Halder, chief technology officer, resigned to start his own technology consulting firm, supply chain head S Asokan, who had been with the telco for about seven years, had quit the company and director for IT (India and South Asia) Amrita Gangotra had left the firm to join Vodafone's global team in London.

The firm had appointed Moti Gyamlani, GE Energy's vice-president for its global supply chain function at Asokan's place.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)

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