In its latest restructuring exercise, Bharti Airtel has proposed to make Manoj Kohli the managing director while elevating newly appointed CEO of the India operations Gopal Vittal as joint managing director. Vittal will also come on the company’s board as additional director. This is seen as a major promotion as outgoing CEO Sanjay Kapoor, whom Vittal replaces, was not on the board. Sunil Bharti Mittal, the company’s chairman and managing director, will henceforth be the executive chairman.
Sources in the know of the developments said Mittal is likely to hand over day-to-day operations to Kohli and Vittal and concentrate on governance.
The proposals will be taken up for ratification at the company’s board meeting on February 1 when the October-December earnings are scheduled to be taken up, Bharti stated in its filing to the stock exchanges.
However, sources said the proposed changes would broadly maintain the status quo with regard to day-to-day functioning of the company.
Kohli, currently CEO and joint managing director of the international operations (Africa and South Asia), would continue to oversee that function only. Meanwhile, Vittal who takes charge from the outgoing CEO Kapoor on March 1, would not report to Kohli but to Mittal, as announced by the company on January 15.
With the proposed changes Bharti has put to rest, at least for the time, being all speculation that the India and Africa operations would be merged and Kohli would be made the overall CEO or MD.
The first round of restructuring was announced by Bharti on January 15 when it said Kapoor would be leaving the company after a 15-year stint. Vittal, a former Hindustan Unilever veteran who also had an earlier stint with Bharti, steps into Kapoor’s slot with a curtailed role since South Asia operations — which comprise Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and were looked after by Kapoor — would now be under Kohli’s purview.
Kapoor will continue his association with the Bharti Group and be on the boards of Indus Towers and Bharti Global.
Vittal’s key responsibility would be enhancing market share and margins along with growth of alternative revenue streams including 3G, data, Airtel money and value-added services.