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Kohli to don Airtel MD mantle

New Delhi, Jan. 30: Telecom major Bharti Airtel today said its board would consider on Friday the appointment of Manoj Kohli as the company’s managing director, extending a management restructuring exercise aimed at reviving growth.

At present, Kohli heads Bharti Airtel’s international operations as its chief executive officer and is also a joint managing director. He is based in Nairobi, the headquarters of Bharti Airtel’s African operations.

Bharti’s founder Sunil Mittal, who is currently chairman and managing director, will become executive chairman after Kohli moves to his new role.

Gopal Vittal, who is set to take over as the chief executive of domestic operations in March, will be named additional director and joint managing director, the company said in a BSE filing today. Vittal will report to Mittal.

In his new role, Vittal will be responsible for defining and delivering the business strategy and providing overall leadership to Airtel’s Indian operations.

The transition at the top comes as Bharti grapples with declining profits amid increased competition that has slowed revenue growth. Bharti’s net profit in the July-September quarter dropped 29.7 per cent to Rs 721.2 crore from Rs 1,027 crore in the year-ago period. The mobile service provider is also yet to gain from its 3G and 4G ventures.

Besides, the regulatory environment is uncertain, while the African operation is making heavy losses.

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

The company recently slashed promotional vouchers that offered free talktime and texts, a move that analysts see as a precursor to a price hike by all mobile service providers who are fighting rising operational costs and falling revenues.

The Bharti Airtel scrip ended 1.40 per cent lower at Rs 344.60 on the National Stock Exchange today, which was mainly attributed to a weak market sentiment.

According to a report by Angel Broking, net subscriber addition in the telecom sector has been subdued. The brokerage firm projected that the average revenue per minute, which saw some stability during the second quarter because of discontinuation of freebies and lucrative offers, could remain stable for players such as Bharti Airtel.

 
 
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