In a major rejig of its top management, Bharti Airtel is considering a proposal to appoint Manoj Kohli as its new managing director on Friday, the company informed the stock exchanges on Wednesday. Also likely is the redesignation of its chairman and managing director, Sunil Mittal, as executive chairman.
Gopal Vittal, recently appointed CEO for Indian operations, will now be made a joint MD and and an additional director in the company. His role would remain unchanged.
The indications of top-level changes had begun to come a few weeks ago when the company announced that Sanjay Kapoor, the CEO for India and South Asia, was quitting on February 28.
Kohli is a Bharti Airtel veteran and currently the CEO and head of the company’s international operations, primarily in Africa. He is also the joint managing director of the company.
Earlier, there were rumours Kohli might oversee the entire Bharti Airtel operations, with Vittal reporting to him. But company executives say, under the new structure, both will report to Sunil Mittal. And, Kohli will only oversee the African operations, with the additional responsibility of looking at the South Asian business (Bangladesh and Sri Lanka). Vittal, on the other hand, would continue be the the head of Indian operations.
Observors and analysts say the two new chiefs complement each other — Kohli is good in operations and dealing with regulatory issues, while Vittal is a marketing expert. “Bharti has lagged in advertising and marketing, where Vodafone has excelled and even Idea is catching up. Vittal will obviously play a key role here. And Kohli can always help with his operations and regulatory experience,” said a former senior Bharti Airtel executive.