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Airtel Restructures Africa Ops; New Appointments

Bharti Airtel has announced a new structure in Africa, with operations now clustered into Strategic Business Units (SBU’s), whose heads will report to the Christian de Faria, the MD & CEO of Airtel Africa, starting 1st April 2014:

– VG Somasekhar has been appointed Executive Operations Director of the SBU clustering Zambia, Congo B, Malawi, Burkina, Niger, Chad, Madagascar and Seychelles. He was previously the MD of Airtel Uganda, which the company says is its most profitable business in Africa. Arindam Chakrabarty who is currently Chief Commercial Officer for Airtel Uganda will be acting as the Managing Director until a new Managing Director is appointed.

– Christophe Soulet has been appointed as Executive Operations Director of the second SBU consisting of Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Gabon, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Rwanda. Soulet was with Millicom and has been its Chief Operating & Executive Officer for Tigo DRC, Chief Executive Officer for Ghana & DRC, Chief Regional Officer for Ghana, DRC & Chad and as Chief Regional Officer for Africa.

The other two business units are Nigeria, led by Segun Ogunsanya, and DRC, led by Louis Lubala.

Airtel is present in 17 African countries. de Faria was himself appointed CEO of Airtel Africa in January 2013. Last month, Manoj Kohli, MD & CEO (International) of Bharti Airtel was, in a sense, kicked upstairs: he was appointed Chairman of Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) BV (which owns the telecom operations in Africa); Airtel had failed to meet the ambitious goals that Kohli had set for Africa, for the end of FY13. Kohli was previously the MD of Bharti Airtel. Effective April 1st 2014, Kohli will be MD of Bharti Enterprises, which looks into the non-telecom businesses of the Bharti Group, including retail, food and agriculture, real estate and insurance.

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Airtel’s current CEO and Joint MD Gopal Vittal has been made its MD and CEO (India & South Asia). He was appointed Airtel’s India CEO in January 2013, after the former CEO Sanjay Kapoor had quit following a 15 years stint with the company.

In December, Bharti Airtel’s Senior Vice President & Chief Information Security Officer Felix Mohan had quit to launch his own venture while Bharti Enterprises Group CIO Jay Menon had also exited the company.

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