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Balesh Sharma to replace Naveen Chopra as COO of Vodafone India

Balesh Sharma has been appointed as the new Chief Operating Officer of Vodafone India, and will take over the post from Naveen Chopra, who held the COO position since February 2015, reports ET. A spokesperson from Vodafone confirmed the development with MediaNama. Sharma will take over as COO starting from April 1, 2016.

Chopra’s next role with Vodafone is yet to be announced by the company. He joined Vodafone in November 2004 as Vice President of Corporate Marketing. Between 2007 and 2008, he headed Vodafone Mumbai’s operations a CEO for a year. He also held additional managerial roles including Mumbai, Rajasthan circles until 2011. Prior to Vodafone, Chopra was with Britannia Industries for 16 years, where he headed marketing for the company.

On the other hand, the substituting COO, Sharma currently heads Vodafone’s Czech operations as CEO. He originally joined the company as CEO for Gujarat circle in 2006. Prior to Vodafone, Sharma worked with companies like BPL Mobile and Xerox.

Vodafone’s top level reshuffle comes at a time when the Indian telecom industry is turning fiercely competitive with the launch of Reliance Jio in September last year. Free data and voice being offered by Jio shook the market up with consumers either porting out to Jio’s network or owing a second Jio SIM. During Q3 FY17, Vodafone India lost 4.6 million data customers and another 100,000 subscribers during the preceding quarter. Apart from this, operators including Vodafone, Airtel, and Idea are battling out Jio in court over allegations that the new entrant’s freebies are “predatory” in nature built to hamper competition.

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