Telecom operators Vodafone India and Idea Cellular today announced the leadership team for their soon-to-be-merged entity, with Kumar Mangalam Birla as the non-executive Chairman and Balesh Sharma as the new CEO. The merger – slated to create India’s largest telecom operator in terms of customer base and revenue market share – is expected to be completed by June this year, subject to statutory approvals.
Sharma, currently the Chief Operating Officer of Vodafone India, in his new role as the CEO of the combined entity will be responsible for driving the business’ strategy and its execution. He will also oversee the integration of the merged entity that is slated to be worth over $23 billion with a 35 per cent market share. The leadership announcement comes a year after the two companies had said they will join forces to operate in the hyper-competitive Indian mobile telephony market.
The merger – which is set to dislodge the numero uno player Bharti Airtel – was imminent as the incumbent operators have been bruised by aggressive tariffs from newcomer Reliance Jio, which triggered a price war in the industry. The existing leadership teams of Idea Cellular and Vodafone India will continue to manage their separate businesses until the merger becomes effective, Idea said in the regulatory filing.
“Mr Kumar Mangalam Birla would be the non-executive chairman of the Board of Directors of the merged company,” the statement said announcing the composition of the new team that includes over a dozen key executives from the two telecom giants. It is only upon completion that the two businesses will cease to operate as distinct and competing entities, the statement added. The changes will come into effect up to merger of Vodafone’s Indian telecom entities with Idea Cellular and be subject to all requisite approvals, it added.
Idea Cellular’s CFO Akshaya Moondra will head the financial operations of the new entity as its CFO. Ambrish Jain (currently the deputy MD at Idea Cellular) is set to become the new COO. “The Aditya Birla Group intends to nominate Himanshu Kapania (currently Idea Cellular MD) as non-executive Board member of the merged entity, with a significant assignment in the Group post-merger,” the filing said.
Sunil Sood (Vodafone India CEO) will join the Vodafone Group AMAP (Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific) Leadership team and also help governance through Board memberships, Idea filing said. Manish Dawar, who was recently roped in as the CFO of Vodafone India, will get the overall responsibility for integration planning, governance and execution at the merged entity.