Sunil Taldar to take over as Airtel operations head after Ajai Puri retires

has promoted DTH business head Sunil Taldar to the level of director (market operations) to oversee Airtel’s operations nationally, and is likely to redesignate him chief operating officer (COO) in the near future.

The development comes with COO Ajai Puri set to retire at the end of December after a 17-year stint in the company.

The top-level leadership role change was announced in an internal company memo from Airtel chief executive Gopal Vittal, a copy of which was seen by ET.

“Sunil (Taldar), who has over the years built a very successful DTH business, will take over from Ajai (Puri), effective December 1, and in his new role will lead Airtel’s channel and operations organisation, and all geography CEOs will report to him,” Vittal said.

He added that Nagananda, Bharti Airtel’s CEO for the “Direct to Customer Channels” business and Ayan Sarkar, distribution business head, would also report to Taldar.

Vittal said Puri had “significantly transformed” the telco’s go-to-market capabilities and was also instrumental in the company achieving “a lifetime high in terms of revenue market share” in the mobility business. Puri, he added, “would play an advisory role” to Taldar during December 2021 as part of the transition.

Separately, Airtel has named Manu Sood, CEO (Upper North) as the new Category Leader & CEO of the DTH business, while Vir Inder Nath has been elevated to the role of Category leader & CEO, home broadband operations.

Confirming the developments, a company spokesperson said the latest appointments “demonstrate the depth of Airtel’s leadership team and the high-quality talent available within the company”.

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The latest developments come with Airtel in the process of rejigging its corporate structure that would see the listed parent house the digital and infrastructure assets, while moving the telecom businesses to a newly created arm, Airtel Ltd. The reorganisation is likely to sharpen the Mittal-led entity’s focus on digital operations with an aim to monetise them in future. The new structure is also likely to remove the telecom regulatory overhang on Airtel’s digital businesses.

Bharti Airtel is also set to raise upto Rs 21,000 shares through a rights issue to build a war chest to deepen its 4G network and prepare for the upcoming auction of 5G airwaves and roll out the nextgen technology in India.


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