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Airtel rings in change

New Delhi, Jan. 15: Sanjay Kapoor is quitting Bharti Airtel as its chief executive officer for South Asia and India.

Kapoor, a 15-year veteran of the company, will be replaced by group director of special projects Gopal Vittal as chief executive of India operations from March 1, the group controlled by billionaire Sunil Mittal said.

According to a company statement, Kapoor is resigning to “pursue his future aspirations”.

The top-level rejig comes at a time Mittal grapples with declining profits amid increased competition, which has dented revenue growth. Net profit in the July-September period fell 29.7 per cent to Rs 721.2 crore from Rs 1,027 crore in the year-ago period.

India is the biggest market for Airtel, which also operates in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and 17 African countries.

Airtel’s operations in South Asia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will now report to CEO (international) Manoj Kohli from March.

“Sanjay will continue in his current role until February 28, 2013, and will be available to assist on key matters until March 31, ensuring a smooth transition process,” the company statement said.

Kapoor joined Bharti Cellular as the chief operating officer in 1998 and soon took over as CEO to develop the Delhi circle as the foundation for Airtel’s growth. He will continue to be on the boards of Indus Towers and Bharti Global.

According to Harit Shah of Nirmal Bang Institutional Equities, “He (Kapoor) was the face of the company, especially for mobile business. So there may be some hiccup in handling issues such as the spectrum auction.”

“Sanjay has had an enviable performance track record, strategic disposition, business acumen and is an inspirational leader. I wish Sanjay all the very best in his future endeavours,” Bharti Airtel chairman and managing director Sunil Mittal said.

In his new role as the CEO (India), Vittal will be responsible for defining and delivering the business strategy besides leading the India operations. He will report to Mittal.

Vittal will focus on increasing the market share and margins along with the growth of alternative revenue streams that include 3G, data and value-added services.

“Gopal spent his last year understanding the new wave of mobile telephony, in particular the data space. This will be extremely relevant for the next phase of Airtel’s growth,” Mittal said.

 
 
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