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Gopal Vittal To Be Bharti Airtel’s India CEO; Sanjay Kapoor Quits

Sanjay Kapoor, CEO, Bharti Airtel- India & south Asia, has quit after a 15 years stint with the company. However, he will continue his association with the Bharti Group, and serve on the Board of Indus Towers Ltd and Bharti Global Ltd. Kapoor will continue in his current role until 28th February 2013, and will be available to the company to assist on key matters until March 31st 2013 ensuring a smooth transition process, as per a statement from the company.

Gopal Vittal, who rejoined Airtel in April 2012 as Group Director – Special Projects, will take over as Airtel’s new CEO, looking after Bharti Airtel’s Indian operations. He will report to Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman & Managing Director, of the company. South Asia operations including Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would report to Manoj Kohli, CEO (International) effective 1st March 2013. However, various business leaders and functions from Airtel India would continue to support South Asia operations in the revised arrangement.The changes will be effective March 1, 2013.

In his new role as the CEO – India operations, Vittal will be responsible for defining and delivering the business strategy and providing overall leadership for Airtel’s India operations. Key focus areas for Gopal would be enhancing market share and margins along with growth of alternate revenue streams including 3G, Data, Airtel Money and Value Added Services. Vittal 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. He was previously with Hindustan Unilever where he had a 20 year stint, and was instrumental in leading the Home & Personal Care Division.

Sanjay Kapoor joined Bharti Cellular as its COO in 1998 and soon took over as its CEO to develop Airtel’s Delhi Circle. He has held several leadership roles at the company. As CEO – India & South Asia, he led key transformations including the realigning of the organisation from technology-facing to a customer-facing one. According to the company, he also played a key role in shaping the organization from being a voice centric business to a mobile internet company, with forays into 3G, 4G, WiFi, the launch of “Airtel Business”, an enterprise brand, and conceptualization and implementation of Airtel Money as a new strategic business. He’s also the Chairman of COAI and an Executive Committee member of the GSMA Board.

We believe that with Vittal’s association with Singtel, Softbank and Silicon Valley Bank, the company would continue its focus on mobile data, apps and content, which we believe would be more critical, in the coming year. It would be interesting to see performance indicators related to data in Airtel’s forthcoming quarterly results on 1st February.


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