Bharti Airtel is planning its most significant restructuring by merging its operations in India and Africa into a single business entity under a global CEO. Manoj Kohli, the joint MD of Bharti and CEO of its African operations, could be the frontrunner to head the combined telecom business of the company across both continents in the new organisational structure that is likely to be in place by the first half of next year. Kohli has been the CEO of Bharti Airtel, and was sent to head the African business after the company acquired Zain’s operations in that region in 2010.
Reports reveal that the company is looking at the option of elevating Gopal Vittal, who joined Bharti from Hindustan Unilever for the second time earlier this year as director (special projects), to a prominent role. It is also speculated that Vittal could head either its Indian or African operations, with Sanjay Kapoor, the current CEO of India and South Asia, heading the other territory. Vittal is currently spending a year in the Singapore and Australia operations of Sing-Tel, Bharti’s largest shareholder.
Both Kohli and Kapoor currently report to Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal. But under the new structure, the chief executives of India and Africa will report to the global CEO.
Company executives confirmed Bharti is working with leading consultants and head-hunters to extend its ‘One Airtel’ concept to all geographies. But they said the contours of the ‘mega restructuring’ had not been finalised and cautioned it would be too early to speculate on the roles of top executives in the new structure. “The proposed structure will be discussed by the board early next year,” said a person familiar with development.