SoftBank India, the local arm of the Japanese telecommunications and investment conglomerate, has appointed Manoj Kohli as the country head in the second major domestic appointment it has made this year.
Kohli has been serving as the executive chairman of its renewable energy business, SB Energy, since 2015. In his new role, he will support SoftBank, the SoftBank Vision Fund and the interests of its India portfolio companies, according to the group.
He will also be responsible for public policy efforts and governmental relations, with a focus on working with portfolio company founders and chief executives to address policy questions and secure approvals for their businesses, SoftBank said.
An alumnus of Shri Ram College of Commerce and the Faculty of Management Studies at the University of Delhi, Kohli has worked with business conglomerate DCM Shriram Ltd and engineering company Escorts Ltd.
Previously, he worked at telecommunications major Bharti Airtel for 13 years and served as the managing director and CEO of its international operations. Under his leadership, Airtel’s customer base skyrocketed to 150 million from 2 million. Kohli was later moved to Airtel’s Africa division.
His promotion to SoftBank India head comes after the group appointed former Google India interim head Vikas Agnihotri as the Vision Fund’s first operating partner in India. That hire came almost a year after SoftBank Investment Advisers hired former Facebook India head Kirthiga Reddy to be a part of the Vision Fund.
In November 2018, SoftBank Group roped in venture capital firm Norwest Venture Partners executive Sumer Juneja as the head of its India investment operations. SoftBank's Vision Fund has invested in a number of Indian companies including payments firm Paytm, ride-hailing firm Ola and hospitality startup OYO.
In one of its latest transactions this year, it backed US-based fintech firm C2FO, which operates a marketplace that provides working capital to companies and counts India as its fastest-growing market.
Last month, the Vision Fund said it would invest $275 million (around Rs 1,956 crore) in Lenskart in a transaction that would see some of the omni-channel eyewear retailer’s early investors trim their stake. The startup, operated by Lenskart Solutions Pvt. Ltd, said it would use the capital to augment its technological capabilities.