Bharti Airtel Ltd. (BHARTI), India’s biggest mobile phone operator, said Sanjay Kapoor will step down as chief executive officer for South Asia and India at the end of February.
Kapoor, who is departing to “pursue his future aspirations” will be replaced at the Indian operations by Gopal Vittal, group director for special projects, New Delhi-based Bharti said in a statement today. The change will become effective March 1, the company said.
The transition at the top comes as billionaire chairman Sunil Mittal grapples with declining profit at the wireless provider amid increased competition that has slowed revenue growth. Bharti’s profit will probably decline to 8.3 billion rupees ($152 million) in the three months ended Dec. 31, from 10.1 billion rupees in the year-earlier period, according to the median of 25 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
“He was the face of the company, especially on mobile business, so there may be some small hiccups in handling immediate issues like the spectrum auction,” Harit Shah, a Mumbai-based analyst with Nirmal Bang Institutional Equities, said in reference to Kapoor. “The reality is this company is too big for there to be any major impact on decisions because one person is gone,” said Shah, who rates the stock sell.
Bharti climbed 5 percent to 345.20 rupees at the close in Mumbai trading, the highest level since March 5. The company was the best performer on the BSE India Sensitive Index today. The stock fell 7.7 percent last year, making it the second-worst performer on the benchmark.
Bharti’s South Asian operations in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will report to the company’s chief executive officer International, Manoj Kohli, according to a stock exchange filing.
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