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Jan 15, 2013, 10.43 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Challenges galore: Gopal Vittal to answer Airtel's call now

There has been a key change of guard at Bharti Airtel Sanjay Kapoor, the CEO of the company will make way for Gopal Vittal, a former Unilever hand, who had left Bharti and later rejoined the firm. CNBC-TV18's Malvika Jain highlights the challenges and opportunities facing Vittal.

There has been a key change of guard at Bharti Airtel Sanjay Kapoor, the CEO of the company will make way for Gopal Vittal, a former Unilever hand, who had left Bharti and later rejoined the firm. CNBC-TV18’s Malvika Jain highlights the challenges and opportunities facing Vittal.

Sanjay Kapoor ended his 15 years long association with Bharti Airtel today . He will continue to be on the board of Board of Indus Towers Ltd and Bharti Global Ltd. Kapoor, who was appointed CEO of Bharti Airtel's Indian and South Asia operations in March 2010, has had to steer through turbulent times since 2011.

It will now be Vittal's job to lead India's largest telecom company by subscribers. Bharti Airtel chairman and MD Sunil Mittal said, "Gopal (Vittal) worked closely with me during his earlier stint as Director Marketing in Airtel. He has an outstanding track record at Unilever and brings with him a wealth of experience in assimilating the consumer mindset, managing operations efficiently, winning with the customer, building brand and innovating to secure market leadership."

Vittal, who studied at IIM Kolkata, will have to put all his marketing and strategy skills honed during his 20 year long association with Unilever to good use. Bharti Airtel's net profit has dropped for 11 consecutive quarters. It lost 1.3 million subscribers in India in the September quarter, with average revenue per user falling to Rs.177 from Rs183 a year ago.

Gopal who joined as Bharti Airtel's Group Director of Special Projects last year, has spent 2012 across the Singtel Group in South Asia, Australia, Softbank and Silicon Valley understanding emerging trends in data and internet space.

According to a company statement, Vittal would be enhancing market share and margins along with growth of alternate revenue streams including 3G, Data, Airtel Money and value added services. Sources suggest that the company's focus will now be on creating a low cost, data driven business model.

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