Bharti Airtel reduces Manoj Kohli’s role

Telecom major Bharti Airtel has curtailed Manoj Kohli’s role. He will shift to India next year from Africa.

Christian de Faria will be the new Africa head. He will join Airtel Africa starting September 16, 2013. He will assume overall responsibility as CEO-Airtel Africa from January 1, 2014.

Earlier, Sanjay Kapoor, Airtel’s India CEO, stepped down in a move that would have forced him to shift to Africa from India. Instead, Sanjay resigned from Airtel that paved way for selecting Gopal Vittal as the India CEO. ( Airtel CEO Sanjay Kapoor steps down )

Manoj Kohli, the current CEO of Airtel Africa, is facing a similar fate. But Airtel officially says he will have additional role to execute.

Manoj Kohli, CEO of Airtel Africa

Earlier, Manoj Kohli, one of the stalwarts of Indian telecom, was supposed to assume large role after returning to India.

Bharti Airtel officially says Manoj will continue to lead Airtel’s international operations and providing governance oversight to Airtel Africa, Airtel Bangladesh and Airtel Sri Lanka.

Africa is a bleeding business for Airtel at present. Also, Sri Lankan business is on divestment table at present. It seems Airtel will retain its present in the Bangladesh telecom market and is gearing up for 3G investments there.

Manoj Kohli’s responsibilities will include in-market consolidation through M&A, key matters relating to Towerco, global partnerships, global sourcing from key partners and strategic regulatory aspects. He was instrumental in associating with Samsung to source smartphones for African telecom markets.

He will be responsible for the business development / M&A function for the telecom business and involved with the group strategic matters.

Manoj will be on the boards of Bharti Airtel International Netherlands and Airtel Networks Nigeria.

“Manoj has embedded our business model and the Airtel brand in Africa, and will now provide governance oversight to the international operations and be involved with the group strategic matters,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman, Bharti Airtel.

Interestingly, Manoj, in his new role, will not have direct responsibility for India. India is the key market for Bharti Airtel for further growth. ( Airtel’s new challenges under India CEO Gopal Vittal )

Manoj Kohli, known for steering M&As including buying telecom assets in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Africa, failed to address the long term growth of Bharti Airtel. Akhil Gupta also played a significant role in adding assets to shore up revenue.

All these telecom assets have started reflecting negatively on the balance sheet of Airtel. This is besides Airtel’s investments in DTH and 3G spectrum.

Baburajan K
[email protected]