Airtel announces new team to revive mobile biz

Airtel has strengthened its top management.

The following senior professionals at Airtel will have new responsibilities: Ajai Puri, director – Market Operations; Raghunath Mandava, director – Customer Experience; Najib Khan, CEO – Homes and Office and K Srinivas, director – Special Projects.

Bharti Airtel said the new organization design is aimed at furthering the company’s initiatives to build a more connected organization, which is closer to the market place and is able to deliver a world-class experience to customers.

Interestingly, Airtel did not look outside to revive the dwindling profits.

Bharti Airtel clocked 9.5 percent increase in revenue to Rs 20,239 crore in Q3 2012-13 from Rs 18,477 crore. Airtel’s revenue in Q3 from mobile data increased y-o-y 70 percent in India, by 80 percent in Africa. In India, Airtel is aggressively expanding both 3G and 4G networks.

But the question from the telecom industry and shareholders remains the same. Can Airtel create more profitable businesses?

India’s largest telecom service provider, posted 72 percent dip in net profit in third quarter to Rs 284 crore from Rs 1011 crore. Pricing pressure and increasing input costs affected Airtel’s profit. Profit decreased significantly despite total minutes on network increasing at 12.3 percent to 284 billion.

As announced last week, Manoj Kohli will be its new managing director. Airtel’s operations will be divided into eight hubs from the current three regional hubs.

The hubs will report to Ajai Puri. Puri will report to joint MD and CEO designate for India Gopal Vittal.

Gopal Vittal will look at improving Indian mobile business. In Q3, Airtel’s blended ARPU touched Rs 185 ($3.4) per month. Voice ARPU was Rs 153 and voice realization was 35.2 paisa per minute.

Telecom circles will be clubbed to form hubs. Circle CEOs will continue to report to a hub CEO and operate with the same level of independence (as they do now), while the Hub CEO will provide overall guidance and oversight to the telecom circles under it.

Najib Khan will be responsible for telemedia business, SMB vertical, LTE and Wi-Fi services.

Najib Khan got one of the key responsibilities. Airtel posted 25 percent q-o-q increase in data usage in India. Digital TV revenue grew 29 percent. airtel business (B2B) increased 20 percent.

K Srinivas will be responsible for evaluating potential investment opportunities and developing business case across various lines of business.

K Srinivas was responsible for mobile business in India under Sanjay Kapoor, who is leaving the company. Media reports suggest that he may join Vodafone U.K. soon. During Srinivas’ time, Airtel’s voice ARPU was Rs 153 and voice realization was 35.2 paisa per minute, but faced tremendous pressure to improve profitability. Airtel India’s mobile services grew 7 percent to Rs 109,364 million.

The changes will be effective from March 1, 2013. Airtel is a global company. Hope it will go back to its strong days. If India is going to grow at 5.5 percent in 2013, it will impact most businesses in India. Hope India government will support to ensure growth telecom in the country.

Baburajan K
[email protected]