Yogesh Malik steps down as Uninor chief six months into the job

Yogesh Malik, who took over as the CEO of Uninor, the Indian arm of the Norwegian telecom major Telenor, in May, has quit his position citing personal reasons. Telenor said it has started the process of selecting a new CEO to take his place and Sigve Brekke, currently head of Telenor Group's Asia operations, has been made the interim CEO for India.

Brekke will be handling both roles simultaneously.

“Yogesh has made important contributions towards the development of Uninor for the last three years. I thank Yogesh for his contribution to the company and wish him the best in his future endeavours,” said Brekke.

Malik was named the company’s CEO in May this year. He had earlier joined the company as its COO in 2011.

Malik has around 20 years of industry exposure and held various executive positions at Telenor Group’s headquarters in Norway. He also served as the chief technology officer of the group in Ukraine and Bangladesh.

Earlier, he had worked with companies like AT&T, the Tata and Ericsson in India and Sweden and also for the international operator TIW (now Vodafone) in Canada, China, Brazil and the Czech Republic. Malik holds an MBA from IMD Business School, Switzerland, and a BE in Electronics from Maharaja Sayajirao University, Gujarat.

He had taken over the role of CEO of Uninor from Brekke, who became Uninor chairman while continuing to head Telenor’s operation in India, as well as its Asian operations.

Last month, Uninor declared its financial results for the third quarter where it delivered a significantly reduced EBITDA loss and improved revenue growth by 23 per cent in the six circles compared to the same quarter last year. The company's ARPU reached Rs 100 and churn reduced to 5 per cent, as per a company statement.

It has already achieved EBITDA break-even in five of its six circles and aims to hit operational cash flow break-even within the calendar year 2013.

“Uninor continues to perform well and we are close to reaching the break-even target. This is the result of a tremendous team effort and the ‘winning every day’ mindset on all levels of the Uninor organisation. It is this fighting spirit that will ensure that we deliver on the break even milestone for Uninor within the next months,” Brekke added.

Last year Telenor signed a partnership agreement with Sudhir Valia-controlled entity for a fresh joint venture that would seek to bid for a new licence for operating telecom services in India. This follows a bitter corporate divorce between Telenor and its previous local partner Unitech Group in their venture Uninor.

Telenor, through its wholly owned Indian entity Telewings Communications Pvt. Ltd (Telewings), has signed the deal with Lakshdeep Investments & Finance Pvt Ltd to come in as an Indian partner in the venture. The maximum FDI allowed in the telecom sector was 74 per cent, till recently; so Telenor needed to bring a new partner to own as much as 26 per cent of the venture to confirm to sectoral investment norms.

Lakshdeep is a privately held entity controlled by Sudhir Valia, executive director at Sun Pharma, who also happens to be the brother-in-law of Dilip Shanghvi, the founder and promoter of the country’s top pharmaceutical firm by market capitalisation.

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