Balesh Sharma leaves top job at Vodafone Idea

Balesh Sharma leaves top job at Vodafone Idea

Vodafone Idea CEO Balesh Sharma has resigned, with Vodafone Group’s India representative Ravinder Takkar appointed as his replacement.

Sharma’s resignation was disclosed in a stock market filing, and was attributed to “personal reasons”. It has been roughly a year since Vodafone Idea was created by the merger between Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, at which time Sharma was appointed CEO.

The newly-created operator was India’s largest at the time of its creation, but it has registered a net loss for its last three fiscal quarters – in part due to falling subscriber numbers. It shed 14.1 million subscribers in its fiscal Q1, taking its total down to 320 million.

Crucially, this loss pushes Vodafone Idea into second place behind Reliance Jio – the operator that kicked off India’s current price war when it entered the market in 2016 by offering services that were effectively free. This has driven ARPU down to a level that is considered unsustainable.

While Vodafone Idea’s profitability is down, Sharma noted in February that there was plenty to be positive about when he confirmed that the company was “moving faster than expected on integration, specifically on the network front.”

Takkar has previously held the CEO position at Vodafone Romania and Vodafone Partner Markets, where he was based in London. In addition to his role as India representative, he is a board director for Indus Tower and Vodafone Idea.

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