Bharti Airtel elevates Christian Defaria to executive chairman in African operation revamp

Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Tuesday announced restructuring of its loss-making African telecom business by grouping operations in 15 countries under eight clusters along with change in management structure.

In third quarter, Bharti Airtel's Africa unit posted net loss of $74 mn vs $136 mn a year ago

In third quarter, Bharti Airtel's Africa unit posted net loss of $74 mn vs $136 mn a year ago

The company has elevated Airtel Africa MD and CEO Christian Defaria to the position of Executive Chairman of Airtel Africa. Also, the operator appointed its director of Customer Experience (India and South Asia), Raghunath Mandava, as Chief Operating Officer of Airtel Africa.

"We believe we have a strong platform to accelerate our journey towards profitability and market leadership and the new cluster-based organisation design will provide an enabling environment to the teams," Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said in a statement.

On the appointment of Christian Defaria, Mittal said, "Christian has done an excellent job by streamlining the operations, strengthening the leadership teams across Africa while enhancing the image of Airtel brand across Africa." In his new role, he will continue to support the vision of Airtel Africa and lead all matters relating to legal, regulatory affairs, shareholders as well as mergers and acquisitions.

In the third quarter ended December 31, 2015, Africa unit posted net loss of $74 million as compared to $136 million in the corresponding quarter last year. In constant currency terms, Africa revenues grew by 3.1% to $1,026 million as compared to $995 million in the corresponding quarter of last year.

Airtel moved its director of Customer Experience, India and South Asia Raghunath Mandava as Chief Operating Officer, Airtel Africa. Mandava, who has been with Airtel since 2003, will relocate to Nairobi and will be fully responsible for the commercial operations.

"The appointment of Raghu will help leverage the platform and sharpen our market focus and strengthen the innovation pipeline. We remain fully committed to Africa and will continue to invest in the growth of our operations," Mittal said.

As per the new cluster-based organisation design, operations in 15 African countries will now be classified into eight clusters with all cluster heads reporting to Raghu, the company said.

Airtel has appointed its present Delhi cirlce COO Sarang Kanade as Director Customer Experience, India & South Asia in place of Mandava. He will report to Bharti Airtel's CEO for India and South Asia Gopal Vittal.

Airtel entered the African market in 2010 by acquiring telecom business of Kuwait-based Zain Telecom in 17 countries for $10.7 billion.

However the Indian telecom major is reducing its footprint in Africa to improve financial performance. In January Airtel announced sale of its operations in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone to France-based Orange.

Airtel in July last year announced entering into an agreement with Orange to sell its four subsidiaries Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Sierra Leone, in Africa. The agreements for the remaining two countries have lapsed.


Updated Date: Feb 17, 2016 09:58 AM

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